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SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- Hear ye, hear ye, read all about it! Some of these newsboys look suspiciously like newsgirls! 

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. Some of the young singers, dancers and actors appearing in the New Stage Players production of "Disney's Newsies: The Broadway Musical" -- based upon the real-life strike of the orphaned, poor or homeless youth who peddled newspapers on the streets of New York, circa 1899 -- are gals in the guise of ... um, guys.

"We actually did a bit of research about the newskids who who sold newspapers on street corners back then," director Christine Wolf explained during a break in a dress rehearsal. "Both boys and girls were hired at the time." 

Well, times were tough for anyone growing up on the mean streets of New York City.

Adapted from the 1992 movie musical, the Tony Award-winning "Disney's Newsies: The Broadway Musical," features the music of Alan Menken and Jack Feldman as well a book by Harvey Fierstein.

The New Stage Players production of the show will run for eight performances at the South Sioux City Middle School, 3625 G Street. The curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m., July 26, 27 and 29 as well as Aug. 1, 2 and 3. There will be a 2 pm. matinee on July 28 and Aug. 4.

Choreographing a full-fledged musical was a big commitment for Kayla Kellen, who is also a dance coach for the newly-opened Arena Dance Academy.

"'Newsies' is unique in that it requires everything from tap dancing, acrobatics and, even, stage combat," she said. "It's far from being your typical show."

Add all of that movement while topping it off with complex vocal arrangements as well as a dramatic script, Kellen needed some seasoned cast members.

"I knew both East and (Bishop) Heelan had excellent show choirs," she said. "Show choirs kids have the experience of picking up stage direction and singing arrangements quickly. We have the advantage of having several in our cast."

Even better, "Newsies" has a pair of experienced ballerinas who worked as dance coaches when they're not playing dudes. Now, did we get that right?

"No, that's correct," Elizabeth Albenesius said. "I play a news boy and so does Abby (Hammer)."

Both Albenesius (now a Heelan senior) and Hammer (now a West High School ninth grader) have been dancing since age 3.

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Most recently, Albenesius essayed the titular role in Ballet Sioux's production of "Cinderella," while Hammer played the part of "The Little Match Girl" in Ballet Sioux's seminal production of the holiday perennial.

"This is so much fun," Hammer said. "In ballet, you're focused on movement because that is how you tell the story and present your character."

"In 'Newsies,' we get to engage the audience and interact with our fellow actors," Albenesius added. 

Plus it's nice having seasoned stage vets like Albenesius and Hammer around when Kellen can't be around.

However, Hammer said they're both picking up some tips from "Newsies" cast of show choir kids.

In addition, Albenesius said being a boy -- even for a short while -- can be surprisingly fun.

"When you're a ballerina, you have to be very proper and lady-like," she suggested. "In 'Newsies,' you don't have to be that at all."

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