It takes staying power and talent to be a success for 25 years.
And Night to Shine still has a special sparkle and electric energy that keeps the crowds coming back year after year.
This year’s 22-act, high school talent extravaganza takes the stage 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Helena Civic Center.
Beatbox, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, country western and rock ’n’ roll are just a few of the acts on tap.
This year, CHS freshman Wes Bruski, adds the distinctive flavor of old time country to the show. A fan of Night to Shine over the years, he noticed “a lack of country music.”
But it’s this particular music that speaks to him and his family.
He gives a heartfelt interpretation of a Jamey Johnson song, “In Color,” about a grandfather sharing old photos that capture some beautiful memories of his life.
“I’m just happy I’m given a chance to bring this song to the public and really entertain older people who like country music that they don’t see in the modern country music,” said Bruski.
Freestyle beatboxer Jeremiah Paasche, who was a standout hit in last year’s show, is back.
“It’s odd, but it’s really cool,” said one student of Paasche’s amazing ability to put together a riveting improv act from throaty vibrations and sci fi, otherworldly sounds.
“I just sort of stumbled on it,” said the 16-year-old HHS junior of beatboxing.
“I was inspired to do it more with my a cappella class. It’s all noises I learned from youtube, but the way I put it together is freestyle.” So each performance is unique.
“I plan to keep practicing and get as good as I can be,” he said, “and eventually perform worldwide -- that’s my hopes and dreams.”
“I always made noises as a kid and then realized you could put them together into songs.” For now, he relies on the internet to learn new sounds and techniques but looks forward to living in a big city where he can see live beatbox performances.
A cross-town troupe of hip-hop dancers, Manolo, change it up, performing “Manolo Remix”-- inspired by Trip Lee’s song “Manolo.”
The five dancers, ages 15 through 17, have all been dancing since they were about 3 -- everything from ballet, to tap, jazz, modern, breakdancing and also some gymnastics.
They crossed paths in classes at Image Dance Company and decided to put together what they’d learned in dance workshops. “We decided to mash them together for Night to Shine,” said Jamie Starke, a CHS junior. They then choreographed their intro and transitions.
“Hip-hop is so fun,” said Laila Balcerzak, 17, of HHS. “It’s so different,” where ballet has certain set moves, hip-hop allows for the dancer to interpret her own way.
“It’s made to be unique,” added HHS sophomore Seely Garrett.
“It’s constantly changing, so there’s alway something fresh,” said Turea Venner, an HHS junior.
They’ve performed in Night to Shine previously with various dance troupes, but this is their first time performing hip-hop together onstage.
“It’s been a really nice bonding experience,” added Starke. “I’m really excited for the show and people to see it and all the hard work that went into it.”
Also in the group is Lydia Fife, 15, a CHS sophomore.
The rock band Requizits returns to Night to Shine this year, with Reese Blossom on bass guitar; Troy Bawden, drums; and Nikalys Jemmings, vocals and guitar.
The trio of self-taught CHS musicians will be performing “Holiday” by Green Day.
“I’m really glad we made this gig,” said Jemmings, adding that they picked the Green Day song because his voice resembles that of lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong.
But they’re also working on original music, which they play in their other band, Hummingbird Cadillac.
“We’d like to be going big with our music,” said Bawden, adding that they’d welcome other gigs.
Some of the stellar stars of the night don’t share the spotlight
Each year some 50 members of Capital High and Helena High School DECA clubs, which help train students in marketing and public relations, come together to produce and promote the show.
Karey Conn, CHS DECA adviser, has overseen the show for 19 years.
“For a lot of kids it’s their first taste of entertainment management,” she said, which is a career option for them to pursue. And several Montana campuses are now offering it as a degree.
The show is not only an opportunity for students to step out of their comfort zones and onto a stage in front of 1,500 people, but also a chance for others to check out a future career.
“It’s a real world introduction to marketing,” said HHS DECA adviser John Hollow.
In the decade he’s been involved, he’s been impressed with just the sheer quality of the talent onstage, he said. Each year 50 to 60 acts typically try out, with only the best making it into the show.
Tickets are on sale at the Helena Civic Center Box Office, or online at www.HelenaCivicCenter.com, or by calling 447-8481. Reserved seats are $15; premium, $18; and VIP, $25.
Helena Community Credit Union sponsors Night to Shine, which it created in 1993.