From left, SDSS students Laura McLauchlin (Ethel Toffelmier), Kyra Brough (Tommy Djilas), Alexa Janes (Zaneeta Shinn) and Anna Fawthrop (Gracie Shinn) were busy rehearsing for the upcoming SDSS Musical Theatre production The Music Man May 29 to June 1.

Hub Staff

The Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS) Musical Theatre has been busy the last few months singing, dancing and rehearsing for their biennial school production under the guidance of Artistic Director, SDSS Drama Teacher Leslie Turcotte. Meredith Willson's The Music Man is set to hit the stage May 29 to June 1.

The story centres around Harold Hill, who poses as a travelling salesman and cons a community into purchasing uniforms and instruments after promising to train a band. His plans to skip town as soon as he receives the funds is hindered when he develops feelings for the local librarian.

Saugeen Shores Hub caught up with the production last week to find out how things were progressing.

Having played in the pit band for SDSS's 2017 production of Mary Poppins, Grade 12 student Jamie Kuhl moves to the main stage for the role of Harold Hill. “It's a pretty tall task when you look at it on paper but we're doing things and getting more and more done by the day,” said Kuhl. “It starts to be realistic and that's fun to see.

Being a main character, Kuhl said he has had a lot of lines to learn for the show. “My strategy is I try to take it scene by scene, that way I can visualize it in my head,” he said.

No stranger to the stage, SDSS student Gracienne Swarbrick who played the villainous nanny, Miss Andrews, in Mary Poppins will now take on a more comedic role as the mayor's wife Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn. “It is so much fun, she's great to play because she's very big and she's very similar to me in certain aspects,” said Swarbrick.

“Her relationship with her husband is kind of a distant one so it's hard to be big and comedic while also being bossed around by her husband,” added Swarbrick. “It's a weird mix of giant personality and obedience, just because it's the time period,” she said.

Grade 10 student Alexa Janes plays the mayor's eldest daughter, Zaneeta Shinn, while Kyra Brough plays her boyfriend, Tommy Djilas.

Brough said playing a male character was something different for her but she was getting fully into the character. “To get a trouble making 16 year old guy, it really surprised me," she said. "At the time I had longer blond hair so I ended up cutting it off for the show,” she said.

"[The mayor] hates my guts,” explained Brough, “And I almost blew up [the mayor's wife]," she added.

“It's more of a love hate thing," explained Janes. "[Tommy] is more of the troublemaker in town and because I'm the mayor's daughter, [the mayor] wants me to stay away from him but we always find a way of sneaking out," she said.

Although she was a Northport Elementary School student in 2017, Janes did appear in SDSS's production of Mary Poppins. “When I was in Glee Club in Grade 8 the high school asked us to come in to be chimney sweepers,” she explained.

Grade 13 student Laura McLauchlin explained that her character, Ethel Toffelmier, was the mayor's neice and also the girlfriend of Harold Hills friend, Marcellus. “We're all interconnected,” she said adding that Ethel was also a member of a group called the 'Pickalittle Ladies.'

“A bunch of gossiping girls from the town," said McLauchlin. "It's really fun because we all sort of sound like chickens. We're all chirping and stuff, it's really funny," she said.

The Music Man is set to hit the stage beginning later this month in the SDSS Cafetorium with a total of five performances scheduled. Evening performances will take place on May 29, 30, 31 and June 1 at 7 p.m. with an afternoon performance happening at 1:30 p.m. June 1.

Tickets are $15 and are available at Cathy's Flowers 'N Treasures on Goderich Street in Port Elgin, at SDSS's main office and online at

Students will also be hitting the streets in costume for a door to door ticket selling blitz on Thursday, May 16 after school with plans to hit Southampton, Port Elgin as well as some neighbouring communities.


Jamie Kuhl will play Harold Hill, one of the lead roles in The Music Man, which will debut May 29 at 7 p.m. in the SDSS Cafetorium.


Rehearsals are underway for SDSS Musical Theatre's production of Meredith Willson's The Music Man.


Artistic Director, SDSS Drama Teacher Leslie Turcotte, watches the students perform a scene during a recent rehearsal.


Students rehearse some choreography routines in the SDSS Cafetorium.