Good News: Savannah 9 year old to join Newsies cast - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Good News: Savannah 9 year old to join Newsies cast

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

It usually takes time before Julie Wilde can assess one of her voice student's ambition to perform.

But she saw how driven Turner Birthisel is at his first recital, in her living room when he was six.

“He said ‘Where are we having the recital? Where’s the stage?’” remembers the Savannah voice coach. “I said, ‘It's here, this is the stage,’ and he said ‘I really would like a bigger stage.’ And I thought, ok, he's got a plan.”

The Savannah 9-year-old continues to move that plan forward at a unique pace.

He recently auditioned for and was selected for the cast of Newsies, and will begin a six-month run with a Broadway touring company performing the musical across the country.

“It's crazy because I never thought I would be in that show,” said Birthisel. “And I got a call back and I got it.”

Turner has been performing since he was five, mostly with the Savannah Theater, but also in a Broadway production of Mary Poppins at the Hilton Head Arts Center in December.

"He auditioned and got the lead role of Michael Banks in that,” said Turner’s mother, Claudia Gaughf. “And that is led by a New York, Broadway director and is with all New York actors.”

The experience was transformational for Turner, who became more interested in the big time the closer he got to it.

"To me, he is already professional,” said Wilde, who has trained Turner for the last two and a half years. “To work with Turner, he's focused and he's ready to work. I think he's one of those children that knows what he wants and is kind of destined.”

But for now, he's nine.

So, one of his biggest thrills was getting to share his Newsies news with Savannah Country Day classmates when he got the call at school.

"They teacher told everyone she had something very important to tell them and I said, ‘I got Newsies!’ And they were all like ‘Yay!’ And for the rest of the day the whole grade was congratulating me.”

Turner will complete third grade with a tutor on the 20-city tour with a show he says is one of his favorites.

And then?

"What he wants is bigger shows after this,’’ said Gaughf. “I want what he wants and he wants even bigger shows after this.”

"I think,” added Wilde, “he is going to go all the way.”

And he has already put into practice his philosophy for getting there, which is simple and unusually sage for a 9 year old.

"Just do what you want,” Turner said, “and if you want to do it, then do it.”

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