Atypical Actors

MN’s Newsies production included two unusual cast members


Elias Pipinos, Front Page Editor

“Officer, grab him,” says the familiar face of Snyder as he watches Jack, Davey, and Les run away as fast as they can. “You, Jack Kelly, stop!” A tense chase ensues, with the trio making a narrow escape up a fire ladder. 

It may be hard to believe, and even more peculiar to watch, but this year, MN’s Newsies production included two well-known members in its cast: Dr. Aaron Bearinger as Snyder and Terry Meyer as Teddy Roosevelt. 

Normally, Bearinger and Meyer have their fair share of superiority and respect among the student body, but things were different as they took to the stage as part of the cast.

“For me, it was an opportunity to be a part of something in the school and, in a lot of ways, feel like an equal to the students,” Bearinger said, “in fact, in a lot of ways I am unequal to them because we have many great [actors among us] at MN.”

Although Bearinger had not taken part in theater before this endeavor, he has had numerous experiences in front of large crowds. 

“I actually hosted my own radio show called ‘Friday Night Lights,’ so I have had some experiences like this before,” Bearinger said, “And obviously, as the principal, I am up in front of lots of students, sometimes getting booed, but I don’t let it bother me.”

Unlike Bearinger’s  non-theatrical past, Meyer has had numerous experiences in the spotlight during his life. 

“When I was in high school, I was involved in musicals and a couple of stage productions,” Meyer said, “I think it’s actually easier to perform now, because being in front of a classroom [helped me] get used to being in front of people.”

Meyer worked closely with senior Jenna Schweigert, who played Medda Larkin, throughout the musical, almost always shoulder-to-shoulder with the actress. 

“It’s [interesting] to connect with a teacher on and off stage,” Schweigert said, “Helping him out and acting with him, [along with] having more people who usually weren’t in the musical was exciting.”

Unlike Meyer and Schweigert’s close and friendly interaction throughout the musical, Bearinger, as Snyder, chases around Jack Kelly, played by junior Justin Thengvall, as the events of the musical play out. 

“It’s been [interesting working alongside our superiors] because we get to work with them in a different way than you usually would in a classroom,” Thengvall said.

This experience has been a first for many, and invoked the interest of the audience as well as Thengvall and the rest of the cast. 

“It’s something different and new that we haven’t done before,” Thengvall said, “It definitely sparks [people’s] interest and draws in the audience to [watch] the musical.” 

Four days of performances later, Newsies had drawn in hundreds of audience members, and showcased its uniqueness with two strikingly familiar faces in its cast. 

“I think this type of involvement from the school community might bring more awareness of the theater,” Meyer said, “and might continue to improve on the great things that we already have here at MN.”