It’s a busy day at Proctors when they ask Paul Fahey for help manning the phones.
By 8 a.m. Tuesday, two hours before tickets went on sale for “Newsies the Musical,” a line of people had set up camp with coffee and folding chairs outside the Proctors box office. Employees at the historic Schenectady theater had ordered extra bandwidth for the anticipated rush of online ticket sales. And as soon as the clock ticked 10 a.m., phones started ringing.
“It was kind of exciting, actually,” said Fahey, director of marketing. “We went from a handful of people answering the phones to 60 people answering the phones in just a few minutes.”
More than 12,400 of about 20,800 available tickets (2,600 per show) had been sold as of mid-afternoon Tuesday for the musical’s Oct. 11-17 run at Proctors.
The Disney musical is based on the 1992 film “Newsies,” which was inspired by the 1899 newsboy strike in New York City. It first premiered at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 and just wrapped up a successful 21⁄2-year run on Broadway. Now, it’s preparing to take to the road for a 25-city North American tour lasting 43 weeks.
The show’s first stop is Schenectady. More than 80 stagehands, cast and crewmembers are scheduled to arrive Sept. 15 for a nearly monthlong tech period, which involves constructing sets, fitting costumes, choreographing performance cues and coordinating microphone frequencies for the entire tour.
“We’re fortunate that they’re doing the teching here,” Fahey said. “It’s great for downtown Schenectady, for the hotels and restaurants, to have upwards of 80 people here for that long.”
This year’s state budget included a 25 percent tax credit for producers to tech their shows in New York facilities, effective in 2015. Legislation is currently pending to make the credit applicable this year.
The Broadway League cited the September 2013 “tech” of Ghost The Musical at Proctors as an example of the massive economic impact a tech period can have. The musical’s run boosted hotel occupancy, dining, shopping, transportation and tourism in the local community.
“This kind of thing often used to happen at stages and sound studios in other states because of the credits they offered,” Fahey said, “but we always said, ‘Let’s keep this in New York.’ ”
“Newsies” had its last performance on Broadway just 10 days ago. When it first opened in March 2012, it was slated for just 101 shows. It proved so popular, however, that it finished its Broadway run with a total of 1,005 performances, attendance of more than 1 million and gross revenue of more than $100 million, according to BroadwayWorld.com. It was the highest-grossing show of the 2011-12 Broadway season and won two Tonys.
The musical is set in New York City at the turn of the century and features a newsboy, Jack Kelly, who dreams of a better life for himself and a band of teenage newsies. The show has music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Jack Feldman, and is based on a book by Harvey Fierstein.
It’s the first show of Proctors’ 2014-15 Broadway Series and will be followed by “Jersey Boys,” “The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible,” “Annie,” “Pippin” and “Kinky Boots.”
“We didn’t really know what to expect with ‘Newsies’ tickets,” Fahey said Tuesday afternoon, after more than 60 percent of available tickets had already sold. “We knew it was popular on Broadway, so it stood to reason it would be popular up here.”
Tickets can be ordered in person at the Proctors box office, by phone at 346-6204 or online at http://proctors.org.