Chilliwack born-and-raised actor Adam Charles plays the lead role of Jack Kelly in Newsies by Theatre Under the Stars. (Lindsay Elliott)

Chilliwack theatre talent shines on outdoor Vancouver stage

Adam Charles lands lead role in Disney’s Newsies with Theatre Under the Stars

A trio of homegrown talent has taken the outdoor stage in Vancouver with Theatre Under the Stars and its production of Disney’s Newsies.

Most notable is Adam Charles who plays the lead role of Jack Kelly in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Charles was born and raised in Chilliwack and graduated from Sardis secondary in 2002. He is returning to perform with Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) for the first time in 11 years.

“I feel like [Jack Kelly] is super relatable to the masses,” he says, adding that his character is “stuck in one place and wants to finds his purpose in life” like many people.

Charles is accompanied by fellow Chilliwackians Joaquin Little who is in the chorus and plays the character Specs, and orchestra trombonist Jackson Howard.

“Disney’s Newsies is a fiery true tale of conviction, where a scrappy group of underdogs sets spirits aflame by standing up and fighting for what is right,” said TUTS board president Naveen Kapahi.

A soaring spectacle of powerful song and high-kicking dance, Newsies is packed with nonstop thrills and a timeless message for the whole family. At the turn of the 20th century, New York City had its papers delivered by an army of ragged orphans and runaways called ‘newsies.’ But when newspaper owners raise distribution prices at the newsies’ expense, this band of misfits unites to strike against the unfair conditions. Filled with inspiring songs such as ‘King of New York,’ ‘Santa Fe,’ and ‘Carrying the Banner,’ this Disney film turned Tony Award-winning Broadway hit inspires everyone to seize the day.

Opening night for Newsies was July 10, and the show runs until Aug. 17. Charles says it has been going very well so far.

“The audiences love it. They’re laughing, they’re crying. They’re along for the ride with us, for sure.”

Newsies is being performed at the outdoor Malkin Bowl stage in Stanley Park. It’s definitely “a bit of a trip” performing open-air theatre, he says.

“You’re used to a dark theatre where you can’t see anyone, but here you look out and you see about 1,200 faces.”

The cast and crew have also been getting used to performing out in nature where there are racoons on one side of the stage, eagles and planes flying overhead, and sea lions barking at the most inopportune time.

Charles is a graduate of the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts in Toronto. He has acted on stages across Canada, from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland. Some of his favourite theatre credits include: Link Larkin in Hairspray, Eddie in Blood Brothers (Arts Club), Marius in Les Miserables, Coneybear in Spelling Bee (WCT), Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Chemainus), Sky in Mamma Mia (TSJ), Galileo in We Will Rock You (Magnus), Fredrick in Pirates of Penzance (TIP), and Dean Hyde in All Shook Up (Mayfield and The Globe).

Actor Joaquin Little grew up in Sardis, graduated in 2017 from G.W. Graham and is now studying theatre at Capilano University.

Jackson Howard graduated from G.W. Graham this year and has been accepted on a full scholarship to Glenn Gould School of Music in Toronto this fall.

Theatre Under the Stars presents Disney’s Newsies until Aug. 17 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Tickets are $30 to $55. For show times or to buy tickets, go to or call 604-631-2877.



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Chilliwack born-and-raised actor Adam Charles (blue shirt) plays the lead role of Jack Kelly in Newsies by Theatre Under the Stars. (Lindsay Elliott)

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