A talented group of Birmingham high-school students will take to the stage with a remarkable performance Wednesday, April 28 to celebrate the success of UAB’s Alys Stephens Center arts education program.

    April 20, 2010

ASC Make it Happen Performing Ensemble. Download image.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A talented group of Birmingham high-school students will take to the stage with a remarkable performance Wednesday, April 28 to celebrate the success of UAB's Alys Stephens Center arts education program.

Children from schools across Birmingham and Jefferson County will fill the center's 1,300-seat Jemison Concert Hall to see the performance free through the Alys Stephens Center's Arts in Action program. The program's mission is to cultivate an appreciation for and understanding of the arts and make the performing arts accessible to everyone through mentoring, family shows, innovative classes and activities for adults and drama workshops and summer camps. Arts in Action also offers free buses to and from the center. Since its inception in 2002, more than 50,000 students have participated in Arts in Action events and programs.

Students from Ramsey High School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) are the stars in the Alys Stephens Center's Make It Happen Performing Ensemble. They will present their show, "Extraordinary Americans Who Happen to Be ..." at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 28 in the center, 1200 10th Ave. South. The show is an enlightening and entertaining celebration of African-American history with a performance of song, dance and original monologues. The students auditioned, attended weekly theater classes and rehearsals and also researched, wrote and developed the show.

The Make It Happen Ensemble was created in 2008 to offer dedicated students an opportunity to receive high-quality acting instruction and allow them to create their own performance piece, said Kimberly Kirklin, director of education and outreach at the Alys Stephens Center.

"At the same time, the program gives our young audiences an opportunity to see an educational performance created by students," Kirklin said. "This year's students are a passionate and talented group. We are so proud to have the MIH Ensemble as part of the ASC's Arts in Action Education and Outreach Initiative."

UAB's ethnographic filmmaking class also is creating a documentary about the group.

Alicia Johnson directs the ensemble. The show originally was presented as part of the ASC Kids' Club series in February. The performers are Jessica Lockett, Ryan Swain, Crystalyn Haynes, Shanarruus Briggins-Pollard, Carla Smith, Derrick Spencer, Tevin Giddens, Rickey Morgan, Ashley Parmer, Ajiona Brown, Samantha Richardson and Victoria Thompson.

Thompson, 15, of ASFA, said she has enjoyed working with arts professionals in the program. "I have learned that being an actress is much more than getting up in front of an audience and speaking. You have to have a great deal of patience and be willing to get out of your comfort zone," Thompson said.

"You learn so much more than you expected, and you get the experience to work as a professional. In the future I plan on staying in the arts. Acting, producing, directing and other things concerning the arts are what I want to do. The sky is the limit."

About UAB's Alys Stephens Center

UAB's Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center is one of the Southeast's premier performing arts centers, hosting the best in international, national and local performance. Home to the UAB departments of Theatre and Music and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, the ASC also presents its own season, bringing the world's best music, dance, theater, comedy and family entertainment to Alabama.