Jared Brito had modest aspirations. A few months back, the 11-year-old Pollock Elementary School pupil just wanted to try out for a small role in the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of The Music Man.
“I wanted to be a marching band member, no speaking lines,” he said in an interview last week.
He didn’t get the part.
Instead, he got a better one, a much better one. Jared performs five times a weekend as Winthrop, Marian the Librarian’s shy, lisping little brother. His is the character that brings suspicious Marian and the slick, fast-talking Music Man, “Professor” Harold Hill, together.
“I have to sing and talk with a lisp, still sound good and smile,” he said, “and on top of that, dance.”
Hardest line? “Thcrumptious!”
Jared is singing and hoofing as Winthrop Paroo at the Walnut through Jan. 6, he said.
After he auditioned a few months ago, he was called back the next day and asked to sing and read for the part of Winthrop. He then learned he would be one of two boys to portray the character, which he does on Friday nights and in two shows a day Saturdays and Sundays.
Although his Music Man part is Jared’s first professional stage role, he’s been in two school productions and he also has a couple of other paid credits on his resume. Jared has an agent who has gotten him parts in two commercials. If you watch TV, you probably have seen him.
Jared is the kid wearing a blue sweater in a PECO spot in which talking wall outlets gripe about their underuse. He’s also a football-playing youngster in an Xbox commercial.
So far, Jared likes the life of a working actor.
Put the emphasis on working.
Filming commercials and rehearsing for The Music Man have meant time away from school, and that time has to be made up when he’s back in his sixth-grade classroom.
“I have to do extra work the times I am in school,” he said, but “I’m getting it done.”
There is a grind to getting a show ready, said his dad, William.
“There were rehearsals a couple times a week,” he said, and “he had to be let out of school early.”
Jared, of course, is fond of studying the creative and performing arts, but he also has a fondness for math.
“It’s like solving a puzzle,” he said.
Math, or more precisely, arithmetic, comes into play when Jared considers his earnings.
He knows his fractions.
“We split it up,” he said of his pay. Some money is saved for college, some for clothes and “there’s some money for me,” he said.
“I want him to have enough for college,” said his dad. “I don’t want him to have any loans.”
On stage at the Walnut, Jared said he’s getting good feedback from the show’s producers and likes being part of a team.
“I get along with everyone really well,” he said.
Have there been any odd moments on stage or off?
Getting ready for a dress rehearsal, Jared found he was too big for his costume. That caused a tense moment or two, he said, until he realized he was putting on the threads of the slightly smaller Vincent Crocilla of Vineland, N.J., who is “other Winthrop” Mondays through Thursdays.
One member of the cast isn’t human, although he provided some nervous laughter.
“We have a real horse in our play,” Jared said. During a tech rehearsal in which sound and lighting are checked, the horse showed the theater can be full of, er, surprises and produced a fairly startling sound, and not from the end it whinnies from.
Needless to say, the horse was quickly led offstage to do what needed to be done.
“It was something I never heard before,” the young actor said, grinning. “It scared me at first and then made me laugh.” It still did when he told the story last week.
Jared isn’t the only actor in the family. His younger brother, Aidan, 6, has been in two commercials — one for a local car dealership and another for an air freshener. ••
The Man’s in town …
The five-time Tony Award-winning musical, The Music Man, is playing the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. in Center City, through Jan. 6. There will be no performances on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.
For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org