THE EDGE - The Roanoke Times
Review - February 7, 2007

Performers rocked the stage

By Katie Thisdell

Roanoke may be small, but it sure has big talent. Saturday night's performance of "Broadway Rocks!" rocked Jefferson Center for almost two hours. Seventeen teens from the Kevin Jones Performing Arts Studio showcased their immense voices and talent as part of the studio's fifth annual show.

The evening began with a scramble for vouchers and seats as theater-goers tried to fit into the 938-seat Shaftman Performance Hall. The free vouchers ran out soon after the doors opened at 7 p.m., leaving a lobby full of disappointed people who did not get seats.

Those unable to attend missed a night of great singing and dancing, laughing and clapping. The show was a compilation of hit songs from 13 Broadway shows, from the ever-popular "Grease" to "Aida" to "Hairspray."

Even without knowing the plot of each musical, the audience was still able to enjoy the show. While sitting in awe of these multitalented teens, many people were transported to theaters up and down Broadway in New York City without ever leaving downtown Roanoke.

Every teen had a chance to shine. However, certain songs were more exceptional.

Reed Braden and Brooklyn Dudley's rendition of "And the Money Kept Rolling In" and "Buenos Aires" from "Evita" were outstanding. Each had strong, clear voices as they sang their hearts -- and lungs -- out.

Lexi Ford seemed to pour her soul into "Nobody's Side" from "Chess." Several attendees commented about her sweet-sounding voice as chills went up and down their arms. Lexi also made "My Strongest Suit" from "Aida" shine -- literally -- as she and fellow singers Ashley Montgomery and Kenzie Conner wore sparkly gold outfits.

With 22 different songs, it was difficult to choose a favorite. While the voices and energy weakened slightly during the second half, it picked back up during the finale, "You Can't Stop the Beat" from "Hairspray."

The full ensemble and dancers performed on stage just like professional Broadway actors with very adult voices. As they sang "Shake and shimmy/and have some fun today," it seemed the audience took the suggestion and had some fun, too.