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From Idol to Angel

American Idol’s Taylor Hicks has the role of Teen Angel in Grease, which is coming to town.



Taylor Hicks
Taylor Hicks is a “country-blues” 
Teen Angel in Grease. 

When Taylor Hicks won top honors on American Idol’s fifth season, many of the 63.4 million viewers who voted would have predicted a big future for the Alabama-born singer with the prematurely gray hair and the clear, bluesy voice.

But who would have guessed that Hicks would end up in Grease, that quintessential rock ’n’ roll celebration of ’50s teenage angst?

That, however, is exactly what happened. In June of last year, Hicks made his Broadway debut as Teen Angel, the celestial crooner who serenades Frenchy, the hairdresser wannabe, to the tune of “Beauty School Dropout.” Then Hicks, 32, segued smoothly from the show’s Broadway cast to its touring company, which arrives in Orlando this month.

“I’m learning a ton,” says Hicks with a touch of the modestly that helped to endear him to American Idol voters. “I’ve never had formal training and now…I’m learning as much as I can about theater acting.”

While learning on the job, Hicks has made a point of reshaping the role of Teen Angel (which was played by teen-heartthrob Frankie Avalon in the 1978 movie version) to fit his own country-fried persona. His wardrobe reflects that as does the “R&B country flavor” he brings to his song.

“It’s kind of a country-blues Teen Angel,” he explains.

In addition to his big “Beauty School Dropout” number, Hicks also joins in with the rest of the cast on group songs. Then, when the show is over, he returns to the stage to sing “Seven Mile Breakdown” from his new CD, The Distance, as an encore.

“People love it,” says Hicks, when asked about the crowd’s reaction to the encore. “It’s more ‘grease’ for the wheel.”

8 p.m. August 25-28, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. August 29, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. August 30. $37-$71. Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. 1-800-982-2787.

Required Reeding

August 17 Seven musicians from the Orlando Philharmonic offer a feast of music, from Handel to Beethoven to Bach, in a program called Double Reed Heaven. The musicians perform on bassoons, oboes, piano and harpsichord. 7 p.m. $13-$37. Margeson Theater, Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St. 407-770-0071.

Green for a Day

Green Day
Green Day 

August 5 On its first major tour in three years, the California punk-band-turned-indie-rock-group Green Day is out promoting 21st Century Breakdown. Singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong (center), bassist Mike Dirnt (right) and drummer Tre Cool (left) began work in 2006 to write, arrange and record the album with producer Butch Vig of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins fame. Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times has described Breakdown as a series of reflections on “religion, love, technology, oppression and revolution,” and predicts that it “will surely earn its spot among the top rock offerings of the year.” 8 p.m. $26-$50.50. Amway Arena. 407-849-2020.

For Your Eyes, Mainly

Broken Wall
Amber Boas’ Broken Wall 

August 14-September 5 Two Central Florida painters who share a respect for the environment bring widely differing images of nature into the gallery under the title “Inside and Out—Trompe L’Oeil and Cloudscapes.” UCF-grad Amber Boas’ trompe l’oeil landscape visions imply depth in two dimensions and reveal her desire to make her murals as technically accurate and lifelike as possible. They share space at Creative Spirit Gallery with plein air painter Margé Drew’s evocative Florida landscapes, which expresses a sense of adventure on canvas. Tuesday through Friday noon-5 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 820A Lake Baldwin Lane, Baldwin Park. 407-898-8343.

Flexible Foxx

Jamie Foxx
Jamie Foxx 

August 30 The Grammy-nominated Jamie Foxx brings an intimate and personal performance to the stage on his nationwide Intuition Tour. The singer/comedian/actor is Mr. Multimedia these days, with forays into music, radio, television and film. He hosts The Foxxhole radio show on Sirius XM, is creator and co-executive producer of MTV’s reality show From G’s to Gents and recently appeared opposite Robert Downey Jr. in The Soloist. And let’s not forget that Foxx won an Academy Award for his performance as Ray Charles in Ray. 7:30 p.m. $39.75-$69.75. Amway Arena, 600 W. Amelia St. 407-839-3900.

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