Twenty middle school and high school actors dressed as school children singing the song "Revolting Children" from Matilda, the Musical onstage.
PurpleDoor (1)

Purple Door Youth Theater

An educational program of the Northfield Arts Guild Theater

Purple Door Youth Theater provides ensemble based learning and performance. Led by our staff of theater artists, students receive training and hands-on experiences to produce a quality theatrical production.  In addition to mounting the show, PDYT emphasizes building character off stage with skills like collaboration, critical thinking and citizenship.

Coming January, 2023- Disney’s Newsies Jr!

Rachel Haider, Director/Educator
Liz Shepley, Music Director
Jana Hirsch, Choreographer

Disney’s Newsies JR.

Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Jack Feldman, Book by Harvey Fierstein

Junior Script Adaptation by David Simpatico, Based on the Disney film written by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White.

Actor Audition and Technician Interview Dates:  Sunday, August 28 and Monday, August 29. Register for a 30 minute slot between 4:00 and 6:30pm.  Be sure to sign up for a 30-minute audition.

Audition Location:  Northfield Arts Guild Theater, 411 Third Street W, Northfield, MN

Audition Requirements: This Purple Door Youth Theater production is open to actors and techies in grades 4-12.  Students must register for a 30-minute audition (actors) or interview (techies) slot. Those interested in performing on the stage should prepare these 10 measures of “Seize the Day.”  You will sing them for the audition. CLICK HERE


November 7 – January 5 (Breaks follow the school schedule for holidays, except that we will have our first tech rehearsal on Sunday, January 1.) Generally, we’ll meet Monday through Thursday 4:00-6:30pm. Actual rehearsal time will vary depending on character and scene. (The week prior to opening we’ll meet for longer tech/dress rehearsals.)


January 6 – 8 and 12 – 15, 2023


Disney’s Newsies JR. is a 60-minute version of the 2012 Broadway musical, based on the 1992 film. Inspired by the rousing true story of newsboys in turn-of-the-century New York City, Newsies Jr. is a timeless story full of spirit and heart.

When powerful newspaper publishers raise prices at the newsboys’ expense, the charismatic Jack Kelly rallies newsies from across the city to strike against the unfair conditions. Together, the newsies learn that they are stronger united and create a movement to fight for what’s right.


Tuition for this Educational Theater opportunity (cast and crew) – $185. Members receive a 10% discount on this class/experience. Scholarships may be available.


Director: Rachel Haider, Music Director: Liz Shepley, Choreographer: Jana Hirsch

Costumer: Kate Stuart

CAST BREAKDOWN – Approximately 36 youth performers (grades 4-12)

Jack Kelly
The charismatic leader of the Manhattan newsies, is an orphaned dreamer and artist who yearns to get out of the crowded streets of New York and make a better life for himself out West. Fiercely protective of his best friend, Crutchie, and very loyal, Jack isn’t afraid to use his voice to attain better conditions for the working kids of New York City. We’re looking for an actor who can command the stage with ease, possesses strong vocal abilities, and can exude Jack’s tough-guy exterior and his big heart. Vocal range top: F5, Vocal range bottom: B3

Katherine Plumber
An ambitious young reporter, works hard to make a name for herself as a legitimate journalist in a time when women aren’t taken seriously. Quick, funny, and resourceful, Katherine should be a strong singer with excellent diction for her showstopping number, “Watch What Happens.” Katherine and Jack possess a strong bond.  Vocal range top: D5, Vocal range bottom: A3

Jack’s best friend and a dedicated newsie with a “bum leg” from polio that causes pain, but helps sell more papes. Walking with the assistance of a crutch doesn’t define the ever-positive newsie, so look for an actor who can portray Casey’s goofy-sweet sense of humor and optimistic resilience. Crutchie is accustomed to modifying daily activities for their disability, so we’ll consider both the character and actor’s abilities when blocking and choreographing. Vocal range top: F5, Vocal range bottom: A3

Les’ straight-laced, bright big brother, starts selling newspapers to help his family earn a living but becomes swept up in the fervor of the strike. A leader in his own right, who is learning to use his voice to uplift others.  Looking for a strong actor and singer who can lead “Seize the Day” while smartly portraying the brains of the resistance. Vocal range top: D5, Vocal range bottom: B3

Davey’s cheeky younger sibling, is excited by the newsies’ freedom and loves their independent lifestyle. This pint-sized charmer should present as younger than the other newsies. Vocal range top: F4, Vocal range bottom: B3

Medda Larkin
Inspired by the vaudeville performer, Aida Overton-Walker, A big-voiced singer and star of the Bowery. A proud supporter of the newsies, she offers her theater as a safe haven for their revolution. Looking for a performer who can portray this astute entertainer with great comic delivery, while standing firmly behind the newsies in their fight for justice. Vocal range top: D5, Vocal range bottom: G3

Joseph Pulitzer
A pompous businessman through and through, owns the World and is concerned solely with the bottom line. Katherine’s no-nonsense father, Pulitzer doesn’t sympathize with the strikers, but he does eventually – and grudgingly – respect Jack. This is a non-singing role for a strong actor with a sharp and imposing presence.

Aka “Weasel”. A disgruntled paper-pusher who uses the Delancey brothers as his muscle, runs distribution for the World and has little patience or sympathy for the newsies.

The hard-working kids of New York City who go on strike for a livable wage. We’ll look for moments to showcase any talented tumblers or dancers within this group.  These include the following roles: Race, Albert, Muriel, Nancy, Specs, Pigtails, Hazel, Buttons, Tommy Boy, Romeo, Jo Jo, Scabs, Brooklyn Newsies, Spot Conlon

Includes the following roles: Darcy, Dorothy, Bill, Working Children, Seitz, Bunsen, Hannah, Snyder, Governor Teddy Roosevelt, Bowery Brigade, Police Officers, Pat, Woman

Read more about the show here


Purple Door Youth Theater is an immersive educational theater experience. Elementary, middle and high school students are involved with every aspect of producing a show like performing, designing, building, marketing and ushering in a safe and supportive environment.

Project Purple Door is an extension of PDYT and focuses on ensemble-based storytelling, building productions through imaginative theatricality and minimal stagecraft.

Who works with the students?  Founder and Director Rachel Haider manages PDYT and teaches acting, character, and production skills. Kate Stuart is our costumer/educator. Dependent on the show, other prime teaching artists join our production team.


PDYT is a tuition and audition/interview based educational theater program. Registration is available to those in the cast or crew following auditions/tech interviews. Scholarships may be available.


“(Our daughter) learned so much and had a blast!!!”

“Thanks for a great experience and a hilarious show!”

“(My daughter) had an absolutely fabulous time, and it’s been great to see her so happy and learning so much!”

“The Purple Door Theater is a real treasure.”

“As a parent, I was beyond impressed and look forward to future experiences.”

“My daughter learned so much and made great friends! It is a safe and nurturing environment for her to take risks and try new things!”

“Seeing the friendships and cooperative spirit among the cast and crew was so inspiring!”

“The tour was a neat experience for the kids. The close friendships made/relationships built were a highlight. Wearing such elaborate costumes was fun. Leading audience members in activities after the shows gave the kids another chance to show their confidence.”

“For my child, performing in the theater was a big highlight as were costumes. She also enjoyed making new friends. For me, I was thrilled to see her confidence increase and for her to have the opportunity to perform in multiple settings for a range of audiences.”

“The children came together as a ‘family’. They learned from each other and had a great time making new friends, having fun, learning new things.”

“I volunteered several days “wrangling” the kids, and they listened well and knew what was expected of them.”

“These kids are so fortunate to have this opportunity! You do wonderful things! These kids lives are molded by your belief in their abilities and gifts.”

“Thank you so much for providing such exceptional opportunities for kids. Northfield is blessed by having the Arts Guild in our town. Our kids are so lucky to be able to learn and grow from your classes and the community you provide is supportive and fun! Excellent work!”

“Thank you so much for this program – it was a very positive experience for my child and for our family. I was SO proud on opening night!”

“I think the PDYT is a really great organization that fits in so well with Northfield and the arts that this town provides. It’s a bonus that children who are elementary age can participate and that they learn so much about theater as opposed to just performing in a play. We also really liked the fact that professionals were teaching the children. This just adds to the experience. PDYT is fantastic!”


Contact PDYT Director Rachel Haider at or Guild Education at


The audition/interview process is fun and low-pressure. However, the decision-making process begins the moment you walk through the door.

Be prepared, be nice, (never smug) and enjoy the opportunity to show your stuff. It’s okay… everyone is nervous. Try to stay positive, have a good attitude and enjoy the experience.

Previous acting or technical experience is not required.

We expect all artists with PDYT productions to be committed to doing and behaving their best – on and off stage.

It’s important that we’re able to assess each student’s independent abilities. Unless a special circumstance or need demands a parent’s assistance, this is your young artist’s time to shine. Parents will be asked to stay in another area.


Learn the song listed above. Memorize it and show us the appropriate emotion for the character. That face of yours is great for that. But keep it real. Crazy isn’t acting.

Move and sing simply, clearly and with confidence. Practice introducing yourself by name.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes in which you can freely move.

No need to use any props; just use your imagination.

Show us your best self, forget your nerves and have fun.


The interview won’t be scary; it’s more like a discussion. The tech director will chat with you about some of your strengths and about things you like to do. She might ask you about your ideas for things you imagine in the show. She might ask you why you want to be a technician. There’s not really anything to prepare in advance. Just relax and be yourself; that’s the best assessment as to if this will be a good fit.

Past Purple Door Youth Theater Productions

It’s a Wonderful Life – 2022

Peter Pan (an online Project Purple Door show) – 2021

The Importance of Being Earnest (an online Project Purple Door show) – 2021

The Prince and the Pauper (touring Project Purple Door show) – 2020

Matilda, the Musical – 2019

The Wizard of Oz – 2019

The King’s New Clothes (touring Project Purple Door show) – 2018

Les Misérables School Edition – 2018

A Christmas Carol – 2016

You Can’t Take It With You, a radio play (touring Project Purple Door show) – 2016

Robin Hood – 2016

Alice@Wonderland – 2015

The PDYT logo was designed by Louisa Lawler. Check out her work at

More educational theater is available all year-round. Check out our ongoing Education Programming and summer Young People’s Theater Workshop.

2021 Purple Door Youth Theater sponsored by