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Review: Duncan Christian musical has toes tappin

Dion and the Belmonts: Your Own Back Yard is a good time
Dion DiMucci and his group, the Belmonts, sing for a screaming and sighing bunch of neighbourhood girls. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

It’s no easy thing: hauling yourself up from the Italian Bronx of the 1950s to the top of the pop charts and staying there.

With their musical, Dion and the Belmonts: Your Own Back Yard, the students of Duncan Christian School demonstrate musically that even when all is dark, it’s possible to find the way home.

The story follows Italian pop crooner, Dion DiMucci, and his neighbourhood pals, the Belmonts, on a roller coaster ride of romance, restoration, and reunion as he rides up and down the glory road.

Everything you’d hope for in a musical about teenagers is there from the start: the hot young guys, the “in” girls, the “out” girls, and, because this is an Italian area, the grave Monsignior with a twinkle in his eye.

Jared Popma is sensational as Dion. Anyone old enough to remember when sharply dressed boys wore striped sweaters will immediately recognize him as the local heart throb; he has the moves, the looks and the voice for it all. Athena Bardonnex is his girl, Susan Butterfield.

The sighing, screaming girls are perfect, the other guys trying to be super-cool are very real.

This show takes you right into the heart of Belmont Avenue.

And then, there’s the music.

With tunes like ‘Teenager in Love’, ‘I Will Follow Him’, ‘That’ll Be the Day’, ‘Cryin’ in the Chapel’ and more, supported by an onstage band, it’s definitely toe tappin’ time. Show writer and director Greg Hollett has grasped exactly what’s needed to really set the mood.

Dion, (Jared Popma), is attracted to newcomer Susan Butterfield, (Athena Bardonnex), and asks her to go steady with him. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)