Hernandez's paper trail runs from Wyoming to Colorado Ballet to 'Newsies'

Disney's Newsies
Photos from the national touring production of Disney’s ‘Newsies.’ Photos by Deen van Meer.

Dance might have seemed like an unlikely career path for Stephen Hernandez growing up on a farm in Lander, a town of about 7,500 in central Wyoming. It was his move to Denver at the tender age of 17 that set him on a path that led from the Colorado Ballet to the national touring production of Disney’s Newsies.

“I started with gymnastics when I was 8,” said Hernandez, who soon expanded his repertoire to include everything from tap dancing to jazz to ballet. His experience in all of those disciplines has come in handy in Newsies, which is known for its acrobatic and physically demanding dancing. 

“Absolutely,” said Hernandez. “There is a lot of athletic dancing and tumbling in this show. So yeah, it’s a perfect fit.”

Newsies Stephen_Hernandez Hernandez had an idyllic childhood growing up on a rural farm with horses. But after taking summer classes with the Colorado Ballet, he decided to graduate from high school early to accept a one-year apprenticeship that changed his life.

“My parents set me up in an apartment in Aurora, and they were in touch with me every day,” Hernadez said. “I was lucky because I had all kinds of people who were looking out for me through the Colorado Ballet and family friends.”

While with the Colorado Ballet, Hernandez danced at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House right next to where he will perform in Newsies for his Colorado homecoming. The first show he ever saw at The Buell was in 2008. It was the national touring production of A Chorus Line. It was helmed by Associate Choreographer Michael Gorman, a fellow Coloradan who is now his Newsies castmate. 

“He is so great,” Hernandez said of Gorman. “He has had this phenomenal career, so it is really cool to be able to work with people like Michael in our cast. It’s great to pick their brains.”

Working with professional dancers at the Colorado Ballet every day “sparked my work ethic as far as trying to elevate my career,” said Hernandez. When his apprenticeship ended, he joined 7 Dancers, a wing of the Cherry Creek Dance Performing Company. From there he joined the David Taylor Dance Theatre (now known as David Taylor’s Zikr Academy) before moving to Los Angeles.

“And now I have such a huge appreciation for ballet, I feel like it’s the core of everything I am doing,” he said.

Hernandez has been with the Newsies tour since its inception in 2014. He is a “swing,” which means he must be at the ready at all times to fill in for any of 14 other members of the Newsies cast. He says he typically appears in about four performances (out of eight) each week.  He’s eager to show friends and family – most of whom now live in Grand Junction – the Newsies phenomenon first-hand. His birthday happens to be the tour’s opening night at The Buell Theatre on March 23.

Newsies is just a very relatable show,” he said. “Everyone loves an underdog, and that’s what this show is all about. It’s about these kids who are treated poorly and unfairly, and so they band together to strike against two of the richest men in New York City.

“We have so many fans — we call them ‘fansies’ — who are completely fanatical about the show. They write us letters and thank us and tell us how we have changed their lives. It’s funny because when you are up there singing and dancing, you can forget how influential this show really can be on people. It’s pretty special. I am glad that I am a part of it.”  

Stephen Hernandez Newsies Seize the Day
That’s Stephen Hernandez ‘Seizing the Day’ front-row center in Disney’s ‘Newsies.’ Photo by Deen van Meer.

Disney’s Newsies: Ticket information

  • March 23-April 9 at the Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • TTY: 303-893-9582
  • Groups of 15 or more: 303-446-4829
  • Also: Purchase in person at The Denver Center Ticket Office, located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby. Buy and print online at DenverCenter.Org.
  •  Kids’ Night on Broadway, Talkback with the Company: 7:30 p.m. March 24
  • Accessibility performance: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. April 3
  • Previous NewsCenter coverage of Disney’s Newsies:

    Michael Gorman: The Oldsie of Newsies returns to Denver
    Try our Newsies crossword puzzle

    Check out more of our Colorado theatre coverage

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