Rider student on tour with the Newsies

DeMarius Copes plays Henry on the national tour of the Broadway hit
Natasha Fuller
DeMarius Copes with fellow Newsies cast members back stage.

DeMarius Copes with fellow Newsies cast members back stage.

The cold, rainy weather didn’t deter fans from crowding around the stage door after a matinee showing of the musical Newsies in Philadelphia. They eagerly awaited the appearance of the young actors to begin snapping photos and collecting autographs.

Rider student DeMarius Copes was one of the young Newsies stars who emerged from the stage door. He was immediately applauded and asked to sign playbills and pose for pictures with the star-struck fans. Even with the screaming, fawning fans and budding stardom, Copes remains humble and extremely grateful for the opportunity he has been given. “It’s unreal,” he says. “It’s one of the biggest accomplishments of my life thus far.”

Watching Copes leap and bound around the stage with seemingly endless enthusiasm, one would think he’s been preparing for this his whole life. “I’m not like a lot of these boys who’ve been doing this forever and ever. My first musical was not until I was 16 years old,” says Copes. After he performed in his first musical when he was a junior in high school, his director convinced Copes to transfer to a performing arts academy. After that change, he never looked back. “It was just a different world. And I was like ‘I like this world.’ It’s a very warm, very welcoming world to be in,” he says.

Copes transferred into Rider University as a Musical Theatre major for his sophomore year of college. In the spring of that same year, Copes was traveling between Merrily We Roll Along rehearsals at Rider and Newsies auditions in New York City. He was napping in Ridge House when he got the call that changed his life.

“When I figured out what was happening I ran outside, locked myself out of the building- I didn’t have a key- but I was lying in the grass, crying. I called my mom spazzing out! It was just unreal,” says Copes.

When asked how Rider helped him prepare for his tour he said, “Oh my- so much! Taking dance classes, going to New York all the time, getting to meet people, all the networking, all the training, and the teachers have such a good knowledge of the business, and they know exactly what they’re talking about all the time. There are a lot of things that I have to remember and apply to my day that I learned at Rider. They are so supportive and I’m so grateful.”

“All my Rider friends- I love them. I miss them so much every day, all day. If there was any way I could be doing what I’m doing and be doing it with them I would,” he adds.

The Newsies national tour began in Philadelphia and will travel throughout the United States, concluding in Tucson, Ariz., in April 2015.