A classic tale about a lovable con man and one of the biggest Disney movies of all time are coming to Delta’s Genesis theatre as part of Delta Youth Theatre’s forthcoming 2019-2020 season.
For the company’s fifth season, co-directors Tony Barton and Delta native Tracy Neff will take on two musicals, Disney’s Frozen Jr. next month and The Music Man Jr. by Meredith Willson in the spring.
Delta Youth Theatre (DYT) is one of the first companies in the Lower Mainland to produce Frozen Jr., and Neff and Barton are thrilled to also help young performers — and audiences — connect with the story and less familiar songs from the The Music Man Jr., a classic Broadway musical about a charismatic con man who falls for a prim librarian while trying to trying to swindle the residents of a small Iowa town at the turn of the 20th century.
“We are excited to be offering two incredibly antithetical shows to our performers and our audiences,” Barton said in a press release. “The Music Man and Frozen are so completely different in terms of style, era, genre and storytelling.”
“The Music Man Jr., is a fantastic story about how music can transform a person and a community,” Barton said, noting the show has much to teach young performers beyond its terrific toe-tapping songs.
DYT has produced two shows per season since its ground-breaking first production of Stephen Sondhiem’s Into The Woods Jr. in 2015 with an all-Delta student cast. This year, the company’s four casts include young performers from nearby communities, including Langley, Richmond and Surrey.
Neff, who has a bachelor of fine arts from the Boston Conservatory of Music and choreographs all of DYT’s shows, said her and Barton’s shared beliefs about arts education are what inspired them to start the Delta-based theatre company five years ago. (Barton has a bachelor’s degree in music education from Illinois State University and a masters in opera from Las Vegas University.)
“We are big believers in process and education,” Neff said in a press release. “We try to foster a strong work ethic with our students and we push them hard.”
“We don’t know any other way,” Barton added. “It’s an ethic that inspired us as professionals and it’s something we think our shows foster in young people. It’s amazing to see DYT student performers not only meet the expectations we give them, but exceed them time and again in all of our shows over the years.”
DYT offers classes in musical theatre and movement to help students hone their craft and to give those who may not be “ready for the big show” a place to develop the skills they need for auditions with DYT or other big productions.
In past seasons, Barton and Neff have involved guest actors in their productions, including Jim Martens (Elf Jr., Beauty and the Beast, Jr.) and Hollywood actor Neal McDonough (Annie Jr., Willy Wonka Jr.), to help mentor the young performers. For the 2019-2020 season, the company has retained professional actor/singer/dancers Jordan Field and Emma Dotto to head up DYT’s musical theatre development classes. Both instructors have performed with Vancouver’s Theatre Under The Stars, and Dotto choreographed the stand-out number “Step in time” for DYT’s production of Mary Poppins Jr. last season.
“Dance is a must for a musical theatre performer, and our ‘movement for the actor’ class is about getting those students who would not necessarily be signing up for a traditional dance class at a studio moving the way you need to in this theatre genre,” Field said in a press release.
Classes are already well underway for the fall session, but another will begin in the new year. Both musical theatre I and II and movement for the actor classed will be held on Monday afternoons beginning on Jan. 27, 2020 at All Saints Anglican Church in Ladner (4755 Arthur Dr.) To registration, visit DYT’s website at deltayouththeatre.com.
“Everyone wants to ‘be in a show’, but the students who actually want to learn how to take direction and to gain skills that they can bring to the table are the students we want to work with the most,” Barton said.
Delta Youth Theatre’s production of Frozen Jr. will run from Nov. 19 to Dec. 8, 2019 at the Genesis Theatre (5005 45th Ave., Ladner), followed by The Music Man Jr. from April 29 to May 3, 2020. Tickets to all performances are on sale now at deltayouththeatre.com.
A big component of the company’s shows every year are mid-week school matinees held during school hours; Frozen Jr. school matinees are in high demand, with several shows already sold out. Teachers who are interested in booking tickets to these shows are asked to contact the company by calling 604-417-7748 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.