At first, DUT started with a singular goal - stage well-known Broadway musicals... in Decatur.
Other guiding principles would immediately follow:
give back to the Decatur, Illinois, community...
provide high-quality entertainment (musical theatre, as it were)...
provide opportunities for people who may have never considered getting into community theatre (or had tried to and couldn't), and...
do so at an affordable price.
With Steve and me having decades of experience in staging rock shows, we knew vocal talent when we saw (or heard) it. We also had tons of expertise in music production, staging, promotion, and planning. But we were hanging our proverbial hats on finding singers (what we knew best) - the best we could find.
One the other hand, theatre things like putting casting, blocking, costuming, choreo... in other words, all things community theater - that was a different matter. But we would not be deterred. We'd just wing it. Still, when it comes to community theater, we were smart enough to know that acting is harder than it looks (especially when the actors are good). One can learn acting, blocking, and the things that go along with community theatre. We'd focus on what we knew best - the music part of musicals (i.e.,the vocals).
That left us with a realization and decision that would end up guiding Decatur Underground Theater (DUT) for the years to come.... it would be far easier (and lead to greater success) if we looked for people who could sing (have vocal skills) and teach them the theatre stuff than try (hopefully) to find people with theatre experience who can sing (or (maybe) teach them how to sing).
The pool of people locally who can sing is ten times larger than people with community theatre experience who maybe can sing. Decatur has an incredible community theatre scene with DUT, Theatre 7, Midsummer Moon, Pipe Dreams, and Milikin. But musicals is a specialty within theatre.
Clearly (for DUT) when casting, it would be (and still is)... Singing first - acting second.
It's turned out to be a winning formula for DUT since 2010.
The formula has proven wildly successful and had led to some incredible vocal and stage performances in DUT musicals. We've learned a lot along the way. It didn't seem possible, considering how great the earlier shows were, each show gets better and better musically. People consistently approach us at the end of a show and ask, "Where did you guys find your cast? Are some of them from Chicago?"
Uhmm, nope. The entire DUT cast are all from right here in Decatur.
Their response is commonly an incredulous, " Seriously???!"
We are blessed big time with the amount of amazing vocal talent right here in the Decatur area. It's astounding. DUT and local Decatur talent are bringing incredible Broadway-style musical performances (the acting is great too, btw) to Decatur residents... at an affordable price.
Check it out for yourself when Decatur Underground brings The Secret Garden (The Musical) to the Decatur Civic Center on the last two weekends of March 2023. (get tickets here)
The vocal talent in this show is off the chain. It will blow your socks off.
It's already obvious that DUT's production of The Secret Garden The Musical will build on our past success and be a wildly awesome show you won't want to miss - especially if you ever wonder: what is there to do in Decatur, IL? The cast and directors are working hard. The Secret Garden will be the greatest DUT show yet.
Tim Revis, Co-founder & Trustee - Decatur Underground Theater
DUT is Decatur's Premier Musical Theater Company, bringing Awesome Musical Theater to Decatur, IL.
copyright 2023 Decatur Underground Theater Corporation