SENSES Lifestyle ‘6th Sense’ Review: “FLASHING LIGHTS” The Musical
This month, Gentlemen Republic was given the esteemed honor of being the host for a rare, innovative and special musical workshop run of Flashing Lights, a new type of musical set that incorporated the musical works of one of the best Emcee’s to ever bless the mic, the incomparable Kanye West. This theatrical production from Writer & CEO of CBG Arts; Brandon Rainey, is an illustrative and high-energy story of the American Dream and the journey of young artists with big dreams of fame and stardom and humble beginnings. The show features an array of young actors and dancers ranging from high-school to college that immediately set fire to the stage, leaving every scene better than the last and leaving the audience wanting more as each of Mr West’s top-hits such as “Flashing Lights”, “All of the Lights”, “Robocop”, and “POWER” among many others are played, sung, and accompanied by live instrumentation. For any Kanye fans out there this show exhibits his artistry and music in a whole different form with a unique and special message.
Brandon Rainey introduces to us Mr. Henley; CEO of Diamond Records, he and his Head A & R Christina engage in a worldwide search to make room for their next chart-topping artist, but “86” their top-grossing recording artist Corey Borders; played by Garren Edwards. Their search leads to Chicago, IL where they acquire Steven Simmons; played by Earl Williams. He is immediately chosen as the company’s next prospect and from then on he is immersed into a world of fast-living, instant fame, personal struggles, and hard-decisions. The evolution of the journey of Steven Simmons and all of the individuals that play a part in his struggle and success expound upon the all true message that through God all things are possible.
Following the show, I took the time to briefly interview two ‘Flashing Lights” cast members; the lovely Shellee Samuels and “Diamond Records” own Garren Edwards.
SL: What is your name, age, school you attend?
Shellee: My name is Shellee Samuels, I am 19 years old, and I currently attend Loyola Marymount University. Go lions!!!!
Garren: My name is Garren Edwards and I attend View Park Prep.
SL: What is your position/role within Flashing Lights?
Shellee: My character/role in the musical Flashing Lights was a young lady named Nichole Marie. Many like to refer to her as the beautiful disaster Steven Simmons runs into. She is a 24yr old, vibrant, vivacious, and BOLD artist that is later signed to Diamond Records and joins forces with Mr. Simmons and Randall. She is a dancer, rapper, and singer.
Garren: I am known as Corey Borders, and I am the biggest recording artist in the nation who is instantly dropped, the world is shocked and these kids replace me, particularly a young high school kid. Steven Simmons thinks that he can go down the same road and do even better than me, but quickly realizes that he is obtaining my same arrogant characteristics. I give him advice and at first, he rejects, but in the end, we both come together and realize the bigger picture, and also realize that it is bigger than us. We can’t make it without the help of God and those who keep us grounded.
SL: Does your personal character have similarities with the role you play?
Shellee: I think it’s safe to say that Nichole and I share quite a few similarities, but yet we are very different. I do posses Nichole’s confidence and determination. Also I am a dancer, actress, and singer. Possibly a rapper later in my future lol I enjoyed spitting a verse in “Cant Tell Me Nothing”!
Garren: Fortunately, I don’t hold the same characteristics as Corey Borders, when it comes to being arrogant and cocky, but we do have the same characteristics when it comes to showing leadership and giving helpful advice to those who can influence a body of individuals.
SL: How long have you been working at your craft? And do you have any advice for kids who aspire to do the same?
Shellee: I have been dancing pretty much my entire life. I began seriously training at the age of 5 at Lula Washington Dance Theater and later began training at Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy. At the age of 11 I moved into the profession and was signed to one of LA’s greatest dance agencies; Bloc Talent Agency. Currently I am a dance major at Loyola Marymount University. The advice I love to give to any child interested in dancing is, “Dream big and experience all you possibly can.” There are no limits in life and go forward with your passion. What God has for you IS for you and the cool thing is that no one can change that. Start dancing and stick with it, if it’s “what you LOVE to do.”
Garren: My advice to the younger generation is to keep the musical theatre alive and the way it can be kept alive is participating in all community projects and spreading the word around town, keeping God first.
SL: What has been one of your greatest experiences thus far?
Shellee: A few of my greatest experiences thus far has been performing alongside Outkast at the Kids Choice Awards at 13 years old. I also cherished the moment I traveled with Debbie Allen to New York as a special guest at the Showtime At The Apollo. Most recently, I performed on Hollywood Blvd at the Michael Jackson tribute. These were all special moments to be because God allowed me to take something from each of the moments that contributed to my growth as an artist.
Garren: Although I am a songwriter and performer of my original songs, I have been in musical theatre for about a year now, and my greatest experience has been working with the GREAT cast of Flashing Lights and the GREAT director Brandon Rainey.
SL: What would you say the overall message of Flashing Lights is?
Shellee: The overall message of Flashing Lights in my opinion is… “No Dream is too big or out of reach. Also, if you are granted the opportunity to accomplish your dreams and aspirations do not lose yourself and forget where the blessing came from. Lastly, always remember what the dream is and don’t loose sight even once you get there.”
As a the editor for this magazine and a person who shares a love for musical theatre, I felt honored to be able to sit with fellow business partners and friends and partake in viewing such a “quality” performance and see such passion and talent that we were all highly impressed with. Considering that the next city the cast will be performing in is Atlanta, Georgia, it is an exemplary production that I hope will receive national recognition and acclamation and even catches the attention of G.O.O.D Music’s own. I personally believe after my experience that it is possible for these young artists.
Written By: J. Thompson
For more information on Flashing Lights and CBG Arts visit their website: http://www.cbgarts.org