Local students present a musical revue Dec. 13 at Kimmel Center

Kevin Guzman

This Friday evening, Dec. 13, youthful talent will be on display at the Kimmel Center.

More than 40 area students in grades nine through 12 will present a musical revue that showcases their talents in singing, dancing and acting.

This free performance is the culmination of an after-school program called Show Stoppers, sponsored by the Kimmel Center Education Department.

Two of the participants are Northeast residents. They are Briannie Miranda, 17, a Holmesburg resident and 11th-grader at the Franklin Learning Center, and Kevin Guzman, 17, a Castor Gardens resident and senior at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Auditions were required, and both students were delighted to be accepted into the program.

“I thought, ‘Wow! I get to perform at the Kimmel Center,’ ” recalled Kevin.

For Briannie, there was also the “wow” factor.

“I was very excited,” she said. “This seemed like the first step to my dream.”

She has big dreams indeed — she hopes to perform on Broadway some day. The initial excitement was followed by weekly after-school sessions with teaching artists. Then came rehearsals at the Kimmel Center.

The revue they rehearsed is an original work by teaching artist Jennifer Blaine, whose specialty is putting focus on socially relevant topics through comedy.

Although the show is fictional, the theme is indeed relevant for these students. It deals with the effects of budget cuts on an imaginary school.

“It takes place in an imaginary city, but it’s based on real issues,” said Kevin. “All of this happened to us, so it’s a reminder of our own struggles because of budget cuts. I hope it makes the audience more aware of how these cuts affect us here in Philadelphia.”

He plays a news reporter who interviews students about their feelings concerning the budget cuts and the effects on their schools.

But all this is done in the context of a spirited musical that includes singing and dancing. The songs, explains Kevin, are adapted from musical shows. One such song is Corner of the Sky from the musical Pippin. For this, Kevin and two other student performers each have a solo. For another number, he sings in four-part harmony.

Briannie, too, is a versatile performer for this revue.

“I play a student who acts very uppity,” she said.

But she also sings and dances.

The students began their preparation for the show in October, and it was a challenge to get everything ready for the Dec. 13 performance while still keeping up with homework and assignments.

“We only met once a week and we had to learn the lines, songs and the choreography in a very limited time,” said Briannie.

But both these students are troupers who can surely meet the challenges.

Briannie was barely 5 when she fell in love with West Side Story.

“I was obsessed with it,” she said. “I wanted to be just like Anita.”

Her family has videos of young Briannie dancing, singing and even acting.

By the time she started high school, the aspiring performer was ready for the stage. In her freshman year, she landed the lead in Teen Angel. Since then, she’s been cast in nine other school shows.

The Show Stoppers will be her first experience performing at the Kimmel Center. The students will be on the stage of the Perelman Theater, one of two theaters inside Kimmel Center.

ldquo;In third grade, our class went to the Kimmel Center to see a Christmas show,” said Briannie. “Now it’s exciting to know that I’m going to be on that same stage.”

Like Briannie, Kevin’s interest in music began at an early age.

“As a child, I listened to my dad playing the bass in a band. The music sounded beautiful, and it inspired me to want to become a musician.”

Later, he became involved in varied musical activities, including singing with the Philadelphia All City Choir. He’s performed in all the musicals put on at his high school, and he’s also a member of a student band called Blue Crimson.

The busy student-musician, who is Hispanic and speaks fluent Spanish, also is involved in producing Hispanic music with a group of students.

“The lyrical vocabulary of Spanish music is so beautiful,” he said.

Both Briannie and Kevin are eagerly looking forward to Friday evening’s performance, the inaugural one for Show Stoppers. Both are delighted to have been participants in the program.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Kevin. “You get to work with students who are very talented, and you learn from them. Then you can apply what you learn and become a better performer.”

“I’ve met such amazing students,“ agreed Briannie. “It’s a very talented group. And it’s been inspiring to see how everyone put this show together.” ••


A musical revue, presented by students in the Kimmel Center’s Show Stoppers musical theater program, takes place this Friday evening, at 7 p.m., at Kimmel Center.

For information on Show Stoppers program, visit kimmelcenter.org/education/showstoppers.php