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BWW Interview: SHAFIQ HICKS of RENT at Times Union Performing Arts Center

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1. How long have you been a part of The National Tour of Rent?

I started back in July and have been doing it ever since then, so about 6 months.

2. For a theatre lover like me, Rent is such a phenomenon. It changed theatre as we knew it in 1996. How do you feel it changed musical theatre and what kind of impact did it have on you with your musical theatre background and your career as you know it?

This is my first professional work. For me to have it on this scale and at this degree is mind blowing to me. For it to be this show, this show has been a dream show of mine. I'm also in a dream role. I have been dreaming about this role for years and years and years. Now to finally have it, is a dream come true. I feel like Rent revolutionized musical theatre for what it was back then to now due to the fact that it began telling real stories. People began seeing themselves on stage. Rent is so raw and real. We go through relationships, loss, death, and AIDS. Rent gave real voices to people.

3. What has the character of Tom Collins taught you?

I am one of those people who wants to be in control of everything. I am a control freak. I like to know where everything is and to know what I am going to do for the day. Collins, on the other hand, is really just a go with the flow kind of guy. He is open to whatever life throws at him. Being in this role has opened me up to so many opportunities and so many adventures that I would not have pursued regularly. Being in this character taught me to be more open to life in general, as well as more open to love.

4. What number is your favorite to perform and your favorite number to watch?

My favorite number to perform is "Christmas Bells." It really gives you a full scope of a day in the life of a New Yorker. Especially in the East Village where they all were growing up. There are homeless people, people selling things, people buying things. All of that cacophony going on at the same time really excites me.

I do love La Vie Bohème with all the dancing and singing. It is so fun to do!

My favorite number to watch would be "Take Me or Leave Me." Our Joanne and Maureen are just phenomenal. They are belting their faces off. Singing to the rafters. Giving it to us. That is probably what I like most about the song. I like female Broadway belting anyway, and that just brings it to a whole other level.

5. What would you like the audience of Jacksonville to know before you all open here on January 14?

I want them to know they are in for such a treat. The show has been a staple in musical theatre. It has been a staple in America and beyond for so long. They are definitely in for a treat with the story and music. But, with our cast, we bring so much talent and so much genuine emotion to the show. The singing is phenomenal, the acting is to die for...literally. We bring a huge family aspect to the show whenever we travel. We are also on the lookout for things to do in Jacksonville as a cast!

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