Starlight Theatre patrons attending the July 28 performance of Hairspray had something to cheer about before the show even began. They were the first to publicly welcome the four newest Vincent Legacy Scholars – Erica Brown, Natalia Castaneda, James Hawkins and Tahraji Milsap – to the Starlight stage.
The new scholars, who are now busy pursuing performing arts training while keeping up with their schoolwork and other activities, are:
- Erica Brown, eighth-grader at Grandview Middle School
- Natalia Castaneda, freshman at Park Hill High School
- James Hawkins, seventh-grader at D.D. Eisenhower Middle School
- Tahraji Milsap, freshman at Ewing Marion Kauffman School
The 2018 class of Vincent Legacy Scholars arrived at Starlight early that July evening to enjoy:
- a private backstage tour led by Starlight education and outreach staff;
- dinner in the Education Pavilion with their families, teachers, Vincent Legacy Scholarship donors Greg and Rebecca Reid, and Royals Charities representatives Kevin Uhlich and Marie Dispenza, Starlight staff and board members;
- their public presentation on Starlight’s Cohen Community Stage complete with trophies, flowers and, of course, audience applause;
- a photo session in front of Starlight’s beautiful fountains; and
- an outstanding performance of Hairspray!
And, speaking of that performance of Hairspray, something made it even more outstanding for the Vincent Legacy Scholarship families gathered at Starlight that night. Two past Vincent Legacy Scholarship winners were in the musical’s cast!
2006 scholarship recipient Courtney Germany and 2014 scholarship winner Amari Lewis were featured in the ensemble cast of Hairspray. Courtney also served as the show’s dance captain.
Before their call time, both Courtney and Amari joined the 2018 and 2017 Vincent Legacy Scholars and their families during dinner to share a few words of advice. They talked about how their scholarships and involvement with the Vincent Legacy Scholarship family had not only improved their performance skills, but gave them a sense of belonging and the confidence to pursue their dreams and succeed on the stage – and in life.
It was an extraordinary night for an extraordinary program that, since 2006, has distributed $87,500 in scholarship funds and directly impacted the lives of 36 Kansas City middle school students. Welcome to the family, Erica, Natalia, James and Tahraji!