Explore Boston

Disney's 'Newsies' Star Jacob Kemp Travels from Boston to Broadway and Back

Now on tour with this hit musical, the actor and Boston native talks about travel, the local scene and what he enjoys doing while he's home

The Boston-bred actor stars as Davey in Disney's "Newsies" playing June 23-July 5 at the Opera House. We caught up with him as he tours through his hometown.

How does Jacob Kemp seize the day?

With eight shows a week, my stamina for this vocally and physically demanding show always takes priority. But, if I do have time and the space, cooking with my cast members combines all the things I love most. I’m probably known best within the company for bringing everyone together through my food. Finding each local farmer’s market in our city stops on tour has become one of my favorite go-to adventures.

Favorite things to do in Boston?

I’m aching to return to three of my favorite museums: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts (I can’t wait to see the new Dutch painting exhibit), and the ICA. My mother is a visual artist, and I grew up in those hallowed halls.

Favorite stage in Boston to see a play?

The Opera House echoes with so much theater history, where the first production was in 1927. Just walking on the stage of this iconic building is thrilling. We are truly lucky to be performing at the Opera House this summer with "Newsies." Stunning renovations in that space maintained so much of the spectacularly beautiful architecture and embellishment. I mean, come on, that ceiling.

Jacob Kemp (Courtesy Disney Theatrical Productions)
Jacob Kemp (Courtesy Disney Theatrical Productions)

Favorite professional local theater company?

My childhood included six formative seasons as part of the Wheelock Family Theater, and eight years with Boston’s extraordinary artists and companies. I grew up at, and received my Equity Card, at WFT. How can I begin to explain what a gift Wheelock is to the city of Boston? It is nationally recognized for color-blind casting, accessible, inclusive, affordable theater for all, but most importantly, it provides the magic of live theater to intergenerational audiences. Their mission will forever guide the work that I do. I would not be the person I am, or the actor that I am, had I not been blessed to be part of the Boston theater community, but most importantly, the family of artists who call WFT their home.

The actor you most admire?

Oh, it is impossible for me to choose just one. Rylance, Blanchett, Cotillard, Hoffman, Clooney, Mulligan, Chastain, Swinton—the list goes on.

Do you think one day you’ll be a member of EGOT?

Oh boy. That’s a big word. I just focus on the work. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Farthest flung destination you’ve been to?

My favorite places to perform internationally were in Melisey, France, and Florence, Italy. Adventures abounded.

Got any surprising travel habits?

I travel with a sketchbook and a zip lock bag filled with every writing and drawing tool imaginable. You never know when inspiration will hit.

Favorite memory from the road?

I love to eat my way through each new city. My favorite travel trick is one I lovingly stole from the author Elizabeth Gilbert, who famously asks around, “Where is the best place to eat in this town?”

If you could hop on a plane right now, you’d go where and do what?

I would go to a place I have never been. Just have the pilot pick a place on the map, and surprise me with the destination. As someone who travels for a living, there’s no feeling like the one that I get when I’m stepping off a plane, ready to explore new territory.

Where are you headed next?

"Newsies" is off to Toronto for a nice long run in Canada for eight weeks. I have family there who have never seen me perform. What a gift it will be to share the show with them.