Chapter One

Disclaimer: The newsies belong to Disney.

AN: This fic doesn't accurately portray the actual production of Newsies. The real movie was directed by Kenny Ortega, and quite a few of the actors were already in their twenties when it was produced. Also, not all the actors in the movie acted like their characters in real life, but in this fic they do. And, of course, Kenny Ortega did not ask a local dance team to teach the newsies how to dance.

A tall, slender man with wavy, dark brown hair that fell past his shoulders strolled slowly into the large meeting room. His chocolate-brown eyes surveyed the twenty people seated in two rows of padded folding chairs. These people had two things in common. First, they were all teenage boys, with the exception of one, who was only nine. Secondly, they were all going to be part of the best live-action musical ever made. Or, the man at least hoped it would be the best live-action musical ever made.

The man clapped his hands loudly, and the twenty boys turned to look at him. Most had been staring at their feet or around the room, absorbed in their own thoughts. A few had started small conversations with their neighbors, getting to know the people that they would be working with in the ensuing months.

Once the man felt he had everyone's attention, he began to speak. "Welcome, everyone," he said warmly. Sometimes when people give a greeting like this, it sounds cheesy. Coming from this man, it sounded sincere. "My name is Daniel Rodriguez, and I will be your director and choreographer for this movie. I was one of the people watching you during your auditions, and I hand-selected you because I felt you would be the best person to play a certain role. Some of you have never acted in a movie before. Many of you have never sung or danced for an audience. But all of you---all of you---had something special. A certain charisma that made me think you could do this. That you could be Crutchy or Mush or Itey or Bumlets. That you would not only act like them, but that you would think like them. Feel like them." As Daniel Rodriguez said this, he paced back and forth across the front of the room. Twenty pairs of eyes followed him with rapt, if skeptical, attention.

"To help you do this---to help you be your character---the rest of the crew and I have come up with a variety of ideas. Firstly, does anyone here know the name of anyone else in this room, other than myself?" A few boys raised their hands slowly. "What's your name?" was the first question they had asked when getting to know their fellow actors.

"Well, you can forget those names right now," Daniel announced, and he was greeted with quizzical looks as the few volunteers quickly lowered their arms. "Because instead of going by your given names, you will be referred to only by your newsie names."

"Our what?" a young man asked. He was seated in the fourth seat from the left in the first row. A diminutive person, he looked to be around five foot, three inches tall and about sixteen or seventeen years of age. His New York accent was obvious, even though he had only uttered two words.

"Your newsie names, of course," Daniel repeated. "Can anyone tell me what a newsie is?" A few people raised their hands, just like students in a classroom, and waited to be called on.

Daniel indicated a slender, relatively tall boy with curly dark hair and blue eyes, also seated in the front row. "Newsies were boys in the eighteen and early nineteen hundreds who sold papers for money," he said confidently.

"That's right," Daniel agreed. "And many of them went by nicknames. Your nicknames are the names of the characters you will be portraying."

"So you mean whatever our character is called in the script, that's what we're gonna be called the whole time we're making the movie?" a pale boy with blond hair asked.

"That's correct," Daniel said, nodding and smiling. "And now I'd like you all to pull your chairs into a circle." The boys stood and moved the chairs, some of them refolding the chairs and carrying them, others just dragging them across the floor. Daniel quickly found an extra chair for himself and inserted it into a space in the circle.

"We're going to go around in the circle now," he announced. "The first person in the circle will say their newsie name. The next person will say their newsie name and the name of the person before him. The third person will say their name and the names of both of the people before him. This will continue until we get back around the circle to me, at which time I will say all of the newsie names. Everyone understand?" The boys nodded. "Wonderful." Daniel glanced at the young man on his left. "You may start."

"Jack," the boy said with a strong British accent.

"David," the next one said gleefully. "That's my real name, too." He looked expectantly at the next boy in line, and Daniel coughed loudly. "Oh, yeah, and that was Jack," David added, jerking his head to the right.

Next was the youngest of the boys, the only one who wasn't yet a teenager. "Les, David, Jack," he said, and smiled with pride and relief. The game continued with few mistakes, until finally it had circled back to Daniel.

He smiled, took a deep breath, and began to recite: "Swifty, Pie Eater, Bumlets, Skittery, Snoddy, Dutchy, Specs, Snipeshooter, Itey, Jake, Snitch, Spot, Kid Blink, Mush, Boots, Crutchy, Racetrack, Les, David, and Jack." As he said each name, a few boys smiled, but most cringed. Their newsie titles weren't exactly their favorite names ever. Especially not for people like Spot, who was scowling ferociously, or Snoddy, whose face had turned an interesting shade of pink.

"Now, the real newsies slept in bunk beds in a large building called a lodging house," Daniel continued, oblivious to the unhappy looks he was receiving. "Making you all sleep in the same room every night seemed a little extreme, but you will share a room with three other boys. And you will sleep in bunk beds."

"Just like summer camp," the boy with the New York accent---now known as Racetrack---muttered.

"When I read off your room assignments, I'd like you to split up into groups. Room A will meet in the corner over there." Daniel indicated a corner to his right and then pulled a list from his jeans pocket. "And, staying in room A are…Jack, David, Spot, and Les." The four boys stood and walked to the right-hand corner. Jack strolled nonchalantly, David tried to appear nonchalant but really looked tense, Spot just looked angry—most likely about his name, which sounded more appropriate for a Dalmatian, and Les just stared up at the three older boys in awe.

"How old are you?" he asked Jack worshipfully, his eyes wide with admiration.

"Sixteen," Jack answered, bending down a little so he could look directly at the younger boy. "And how old are you?"

"Near ten," Les replied.

"So nine?" David asked.

"Well, yeah," Les admitted. "But my birthday's only ten months away." David rolled his eyes at Jack over Les's head, but Jack only laughed.

"I'll remember to get you a birthday present," he promised.

"In room B," Daniel continued, "will be Racetrack, Mush, Kid Blink, and Crutchy." As Racetrack walked to room B's appointed corner, he glanced surreptitiously at his new roommates. Luckily, they all looked pretty normal. If he had to share a room with three other people (which he really, really didn't want to do), at least they didn't seem to be lunatics.

"In room C are Boots, Snipeshooter, Swifty, and Pie Eater."

Snipeshooter immediately began asking questions as the four boys walked to their corner. "Do you actually like pie?" he wondered. "And does anyone know what a snipe is?"

"Yeah, I kind of like pie," Pie Eater, who had pale skin and very dark hair, answered quietly, "and I don't have any idea what a snipe is. Maybe you should ask Daniel."

Snipeshooter nodded and decided to wait, as Daniel was busy reading off the inhabitants of room D: "Itey, Snitch, Skittery, and Snoddy." These four, all tall with light brown hair except for one, migrated to the remaining corner.

Daniel glanced around at the four boys still sitting in the center of the room "Specs, Bumlets, Dutchy, and Jake?" he asked hopefully, and all four nodded. "Great." Daniel moved a little ways away from the center circle and raised his voice slightly. "I'm going to come talk to each group individually and then show you your rooms. While you're waiting, get to know each other. I promise that, not only will you work and live with these people, but they will also become your friends."

Reviews appreciated, as always! Now, about the casting call. As I said in the summary, the director of Newsies asks a dance team made up of high school-age girls to teach the newsies the basis of dance. The casting call is for people who would like their characters to be on the dance team. Please fill out the information below and send it to dani_d2008 @ yahoo.com. (The e-mail address is also in my profile.)

Name:

Age (between 13 and 18):

Height:

Physical Appearance:

Personality (lots of details, please):

Likes:

Dislikes:

Is Your Character in Any Other Fics on FF.net? (so that I can read more details about her)

Newsie Interest #1:

#2:

#3:

Other Interesting Facts:

In the next chapter, I'll tell you when the deadline for casting call applications is.

See you then!