ST. GEORGE — After securing Washington City RAP tax funding in January and getting a slow start due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a children’s music and theater company in the former Brigham’s Playhouse space opened their first show.
With a cast of 35 kids ages 9-18, the Broadway Bound Washington City Center for Music and Theater – formerly Children’s Musical Theater St. George – opened their production of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda: The Musical,” which plays Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee Saturday.
What began as the brainchild of then 11-year-old Delanie DeMille in 2013, the theater has progressed from backyard-style productions to fully-fledged stage presentations where children can gain confidence in the performing arts and share their talents.
Along with their productions, Broadway Bound also offers myriad classes for singing, dancing and acting, along with a pre-school. Enrollment for fall is open and some classes are filling up fast, DeMille said.
Though the company has a long history in the area, they did face some opposition from members of the Washington City Council when they applied for RAP tax funding to help them secure the location being vacated by Brigham’s Playhouse.
Broadway Bound originally applied for $185,000 in funding to secure the lease for the building, purchase theater equipment and renovate portions of the space to be able to hold their classes.
The council eventually approved funding in the amount of $102,000 but not without hesitation from some council members who expressed concerns about the viability of the theater.
Council member Craig Coats, one of the two who voted against allocating the RAP tax funds to the group, said his original concerns were primarily about the amount of money they were asking for as well as whether the theater could be successful and sustainable for the long term.
“I want to support the arts, but I was concerned we were setting them up for failure,” Coats said, adding that his concerns remain the same today as when they were first approached in January.
Coats said that though they presented a strong business model, the numbers didn’t add up. And even with the funding, he could see they were still looking at a financial shortfall.
“I didn’t want to use public funds on something that wasn’t going to be successful,” he said.
However, Coats said he truly does wish the company success and is excited that they are presenting a show and getting their classes going.
DeMille said she is excited too, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused several delays in their opening and has limited how many tickets they can sell to their shows as well as how many kids could be cast.
While many of their shows would include kids ages 5-18 with many of the roles being double-cast, DeMille said that in order to put on a production in a safe manner consistent with state health mandates, they had to limit the ages and only use one actor per role.
Additionally, ticket sales are limited in order to accommodate social distancing for patrons in the theater.
That said, DeMille said their primary source of income is not ticket sales but class enrollment.
The group, led by DeMille, her father Terry DeMille and music teacher Sarah Hamilton, have years of combined singing, dancing, acting and musical theater production experience and, Terry DeMille said, they are always looking to add more classes, camps and offerings to the community, providing a true hub for artistic learning and expression.
But what Terry DeMille said is one of the most important aspects of all of Broadway Bound is putting on a quality show that parents can feel good about their kids participating in.
“Our biggest thing that we like to do is provide a quality show that’s enjoyable for parents and where the kids say ‘This was awesome, Mom,'” Terry DeMille said, adding that that speaks volumes to him about the success of what they are trying to achieve.
As they look toward the future, Terry DeMille said he hopes and believes that the endeavor will be something that can be financially sustainable, particularly for his daughter, Delanie DeMille, who has been the driving force for the company since she was young.
In January, Terry DeMille’s wife, Sarah DeMille, said they believed they would be self-sufficient in the space of one year and would not need to apply for RAP tax funding in 2021.
“We believe we will be fully self-sufficient by 2021,” Sarah DeMille said in a previous St. George News report.
Taking into account the recent pandemic, Terry DeMille said he still hopes they will not need to apply again, but they won’t rule out the possibility.
“We are still mired in the pandemic and do not know how far-reaching it will go,” he said. “Having to postpone everything for four months has definitely put a kink in our plans, and we are still not able to operate at full capacity.”
Still, Terry DeMille maintains that the arts and arts education is more important now than ever before.
When asked whether Coats would consider allocating Broadway Bound more funds should they seek them in 2021, he said he would have to look at the situation as it arrived.
For now, Delanie DeMille is happy to be presenting “Matilda: The Musical,” with a talented cast of kids.
The production plays Friday, Saturday and Monday at 7 p.m. with a special matinee Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 per person or $10 per person for groups of 20 people or more. Kids 2 and under are free.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Only 80 tickets can be sold for each performance.
- What: Broadway Bound Washington City Center for Music and Theater presents “Matilda: The Musical.”
- When: Friday, Saturday and Monday, 7 p.m.; Saturday matinee, 2 p.m.
- Where: Broadway Bound Washington City Center for Music and Theater, 25 N. 300 West, Washington City.
- Cost: $12. Group tickets for groups over 20 people are $10 per person.
- Purchase tickets: Online or at the door.
- Resources: Website | Facebook.
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