Keep your feet on the ground, but your eyes on the stars.

It’s a quote made famous by Theodore Roosevelt during a speech in 1900 in Chicago.

Nick Sargis has been repeating it half the summer.

“We lived through so much darkness and we need to know that better days are ahead,” said Sargis, the Fox Valley Park District’s theater supervisor, reflecting on the past year and a half. “And on Opening Night, better days are here.”

After what Sargis dubbed “an extended intermission break” – a little over 17 months, to be more exact – the curtain will again rise at Prisco Community Center, where the FVPD’s Performing Arts team and nearly 100 cast members will present the Summer Stage adaptation of Disney’s “Newsies,” which is loosely based on the New York City Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 (ironically, one year before Roosevelt delivered that speech).

Showtimes at Prisco (150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora) are as follows:

Thursday, July 15: 7 p.m.
Friday, July 16: 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 17: 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 18: 2 p.m.

Tickets are $10 when purchased online, or $14 at the door.

“The story of Newsies is about a young generation understanding that there’s a problem in the world and wanting to change it,” Sargis said. “The story reflects beautifully to the current times of a younger generation standing up, taking charge and knowing how to make a better future. Our community of performers is doing just that.”

Auditions for “Newsies” were held June 1-2, before the cast, ranging in age from 4 to late-50s, emerged and began swift work on the District’s first main-stage production since “Tarzan” in February, 2020.

“Newsies” – a “high-energy musical that pays perfect homage to the Broadway choreography,” said Sargis – features one of the largest sets ever designed and built by staff and a trusty corps of volunteers. The set crew “built a stage in front of the stage,” and a replica printing press that was used at the turn of the century.

“The theater has always been a safe space for all, a space that welcomes everyone,” Sargis said. “It’s also empowered and given anyone a voice – and the story of Newsies is about discovering your voice.

“I looked for a story that would bring us back … and I wanted to make headlines again.”