Van Dyke ‘Steps In Time’ Before The Home Crowd

June 25, 2016
Dick Van Dyke and members of the Danville High School show choir perform 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' to close out Friday's concert.

Dick Van Dyke and members of the Danville High School show choir perform 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' to close out Friday's concert.

Jeff Bossert/Illiinois Public Media

On a night in which high school and middle school students performed the majority of the music, Danville native Dick Van Dyke brought the crowd to its feet at the same school he attended school more than 70 years ago - to show he still has some spring in his step. 

The 1,700 tickets for Friday night's performance at the high school auditorium named for him sold out in a matter of hours.

The crowd in the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium included Evelyn Hanson, who graduated in 1943 - a year before Van Dyke – she particularly enjoyed his pantomime act when they were in school together.

"I sure did think he’d be a star," she said.  "He was so good in high school – and so friendly."  A lifelong Danville resident, Hanson has also met native and actor Gene Hackman twice.

In the one hour show, Danville High School and North Ridge Middle School show choirs did favorite tunes from Van Dyke’s best-known movies, with the star grinning and often singing along in the front row.

Van Dyke says the young singers' rendition of 'Hushabye Mountain' from the musical "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" brough him to tears.

Van Dyke watching from the front row of the auditorium that bears his name Friday.

Photo Credit: Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

The show and a reception for the star kicked off the Dick Van Dyke Foundation – to fund careers in the arts.  He says losing those monies impacts quality of life for kids.

"That’s why our foundation is – to keep money in there," he said.  "Kids are talented, like the ones on this stage – get to go on. Otherwise – they can’t go to Julliard or some of those schools.   This way, we’re hoping to keep it alive.”

On a night when the majority of the show was performed by teens, Van Dyke closed out the evening with his quartet, The Vantastix, before singing 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' with the show choir.

Efforts to fund performing arts careers coincide with those with to save the actor’s childhood home. 

Story source: WILL