Seize the day, Insider readers! It’s Newsies Fan Week all this week. In celebration, we got to chat with star Kara Lindsay about her portrayal of reporter Katherine Plumber, how she got started in the biz, and what it’s like to play a strong woman on a stage of mostly men.
For Kara Lindsay, singing in front of others didn’t always come easily. In fact, “I didn’t even sing in front of my mother until she came to my 7th grade show,” she says. Her mother’s reaction? A few tears and pride. And for Kara, singing meant a great deal. “I was so drawn to how it brought me out of my shell,” she says. “I started to talk to more people, I wasn’t afraid to make new friends. There is something really special about theater when you are put in front of all these people and you are forced to put yourself out there, literally.”
Fast forward to present day and Kara’s big Broadway debut is playing Katherine Plumber in Newsies. Katherine is a newspaper reporter who tries to tell the story of the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899, despite the fact that her personal stake in the cause puts her in a tricky position. The role is one that was specifically created for the stage production, so it’s the character’s debut as well. As happenstance and a little bit of poetry would have it, Kara’s story is a lot like Katherine’s… with a few notable exceptions.
Both women are fierce, a little quirky, and have made a career out of going full force towards the unknown… despite any fears or uncertainty. When Kara auditioned to be Katherine, she says there were several challenges along the way. The most obvious one was that this character didn’t really exist yet. She had never been seen, heard, or known. To combat this, Kara set about researching the attire of the time period and a few famously fierce females on whom to base her character’s personality. To that end, she turned to the internet and did some research. One source of inspiration was famed female newspaper woman Nellie Bly. “She is a legend who really pushed on being at the same level as a man,” says Kara. “She actually worked for Pulitzer and she snuck her way into his office and met with him and demanded that she worked for him. I decided I was going to cling to her, because she seemed like a tough cookie and she was young and she was battling up against all these men and bigwigs.”
When it came to singing for the role, Kara says she had to find a way of singing Katherine’s title song. “It was brand new,” she says. “I had nothing to listen to or pull from, so it was hard. It was a struggle and a big moment in her life.” That big moment for Katherine ended up being a big moment for Kara too, since this character is her breakout Broadway performance. The song is “Watch What Happens,” of course, and Kara finally found a groove singing it night after night. “You know how your own thoughts go back and forth?” she asks. “Well [Katherine] is doing that out loud and singing it. It’s my challenge every night, but I learn so much about her every time I sing the song. We all have our challenges and this is definitely mine,” she says of the fast-paced stream of consciousness lyrics. To sum up the song and its moment in the show, Kara says “It’s a vulnerable moment and so important to defining Katherine’s character.”
Of the experience of being Katherine, Kara says it’s a dream come true. “Half of the cast [including me] made their Broadway debut in Newsies as well,” she says. “A lot of us were taking our opening night bow […] There were tears.” She went on to say that, despite past shows she was in that never made it to Broadway, “I totally believe that everything happens for a reason. The experiences we have and the struggles and challenges and also the really good things. I know that this is right for me.”
She says the cast is one giant family, to whom the 600th show just recently brought a great deal of joy. As she’s on the phone talking about the group, several of them walk by and say hello. Even though she’s one of the only women on a stage filled with men, she says it’s a joy every day. “I know that we have something really special here, and we all are a family,” she says.
You can see Kara’s portrayal of newspaper reporter Katherine Plumber in Newsies, which is celebrating fan week until September 21. Visit their site for more fun content, like this video:
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