Newsies cast becomes real old-fashioned New-Yorkas with help from accent coach


Emily Webb

Adam Rose teaches the cast of “Newsies” how to speak like a real New-Yorker.

by Thomas French and John VanDine

Da drama department had a guest speaka to help with teaching da cast of Newsies how da speak like  true old-fashioned New-Yorkas. 

On January 15, Adam Rose lead accent exercises with the cast. He has been working as an accent coach for 10 years, and his skill at voice manipulation proved very helpful. He taught three principles of accents: Volume, Speed, and Interrupting.

He started with a brief history of New York, specifically around 1890-1900, and how the accent formed because of a constant flow of immigrants from many European countries, including Italy, Germany and Ireland.

Going through many different sounds and pronunciations, the cast quickly picked up on the subtle changes of inflection. They learned rules, such as dropping “r” sounds on words like “speaker” or “mother,” becoming “speaka” and “mutha,” respectively.

One big rule Rose stressed is “less is more.” The more emphasis an actor puts on the sounds, the less natural it sounds.

Accents are an incredible tool to transport readers into the world of the show.”

— Adam Rose

After the lesson, the cast played a game of “Guess the word,” with six people having to guess words that appeared behind them, but could only say them in the accent. The person giving clues may have the word nurse, and would describe them as, “not a doctor, but someone who works at a hospital” and the guesser would respond with “Noice” instead of nurse

The cast learned that the New-Yorker accent is actually split into 5 separate accents. Each borough, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island has a slight difference that’s only perceptible to a native New Yorker. For the purposes of the play, the is learning the broader New-York accent.

The cast must now practice this accent while learning their lines, and, with a helpful practice sheet from Rose, the cast will sound like old-timey New-Yorkers in no time.

“I think it will create a more unified cast,” said Jeremy Hilton, who plays Jack Kelly. “It will create a clearer picture of the show for both the cast and the audience.”