DYTs Music Man heading outdoors

Delta Youth Theatre (DYT) is getting set to head outdoors to present its latest production.

The Music Man Jr.will be re-staged in the outdoor courtyard at South Delta Baptist Church in Tsawwassen, Aug. 14 to 16.

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The timeless musical tale tells the story of a charismatic travelling flimflam salesman, Harold Hill, who charms a stodgy, entertainment-starved Iowa town, River City, at the turn of the 20th century. Intending to fleece the town’s citizens with a scheme to organize a boys’ band, the plan take a detour when he falls for Marian Paroo, the town librarian.

Originally scheduled to run at the end of April at Genesis Theatre in Ladner, company directors Tony Barton and Tracy Neff, along with their cast of performers ranging from ages nine to 19, had to put plans on pause due to COVID-19.

During the past four months, they applied ingenuity and resourcefulness to engage students in virtual rehearsals and create a reimagined performance plan in compliance with the health and safety guidelines required by the BC Centre for Disease Control, Fraser Health and WorkSafe BC under Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan.

“Despite the delay and the new challenges of COVID-19, we are thrilled to present DYT’s first classic musical,” said Barton. “Having been raised in a small mid-west farm town about five hours from River City, Iowa, all The Music Man, Jr. characters’ could have been taken straight from my hometown – and I even see a few parallels to our local community of South Delta.”

The musical relies on strong acting skills, being honed in rehearsals now underway.

“The kids are thrilled to be back doing what they love, albeit in a new way,” added Neff.  “We are tapping into that passion and challenging them to make bold yet believable character choices. This is what will make this musical jump off of the stage and into the hearts of the audience.” 

As with previous DYT productions, The Music Man, Jr., features four alternating student casts, who join the company from several different Lower Mainland communities.

Under DYT’s approved COVID-19 Safety Plan, the casts rehearse and perform separately.

As always, there is a surprise element to this particular DYT show.

“We have had guests join us in the past,” added Barton, referring to local celebrity Neal McDonough and Delta’s very own Mr. Claus, Jim Martens. “This time we have created a Barbershop Quartet thanks to the hidden talents of some of the students’ fathers. They will be popping in and out to croon some of the well-loved and highly anticipated oldies from the show.”

The set and costume designs, always a stand out element of DYT productions, are helmed by Barton and Lora Keady and crewed by students from Delta area high schools.

“Because of the reduced numbers of audience members required by our Safety Plan, we unfortunately have very limited tickets available for the shows,” said Neff.

In compliance with the Public Health order on mass gatherings, each audience is capped at a maximum of 50 guests and they will be seated in physically distanced pods of four to six people. Audiences must bring masks with them and are requested to come early for socially distanced seating protocols.

All required COVID-19 safety precautions will be in force as casts, crews and audiences enter and exit the Baptist Church courtyard and move about between shows.

Tickets to The Music Man, Jr., are available online at deltayouththeatre.com or call 604-417-7748. Tickets are $100 to $150 per pod. There are special preview shows on Aug. 12 at 2 and 5:30 p.m., and Aug. 13 at 2 and 5:30 p.m. Regular shows are on Aug. 14 and 15 at 11 a.m., 2 and 5:30 p.m. and on Aug. 16 at 2 and 5:30 p.m.

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