Northeast Times

Music to his ears

(from the left) Lisa Diaz (Am­aryl­is), Jared Brito (Win­throp Paroo) and Camer­on Flurry (Gracie Shinn) in Meredith Will­sonÕs The Mu­sic Man at Wal­nut Street Theatre. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

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 jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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