The word “homecoming” brings to mind visions of football games, bonfires and reunions, but for Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts alum Shafiq Hicks it means so much more. From Oct. 18 through Oct. 20, he will not only take on his dream role as Tom Collins as part of the Rent 20th Anniversary Tour but he’ll get the chance to do it where it all began for the musical actor.

“Tom Collins has been a dream role of mine for quite some time. When I got the initial casting call, I was mind-blown, especially when I found out it was coming to my home town. Yeah, we travel throughout America, Canada and Tokyo but there’s nothing like coming back home and giving back to the community that gave so much to me. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity,” said Hicks.

When Hicks told his family he was coming back for the limited engagement, they were just as over the moon as he was.

“My family was ecstatic. They were like, ‘Where can I get tickets?’ My family has been avid supporters of me in all of my endeavors. They were excited when I gave them the news that I was going on tour then doubly so when I told them the tour included a Philadelphia stop,” the Philadelphia native said.

Hicks credits his time at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, also known as CAPA, and time spent in Kimmel Center programs like Jazz Camp and Showstoppers, an after-school musical theater development program for high schoolers as the building blocks for his career.

“CAPA was where I did my first big musical roles. I played Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” and that made me fall in love with musical theater. The opportunities that I got at the Kimmel Center through the Showstoppers program and the Jazz camp really pushed me as an artist. At Jazz camp, I learned how to use my voice and use the scale of Jazz, all the ins and out and the chord progressions to inform my vocal acrobatics. Showstoppers exposed me to all of the aspects of musical theater, acting, movement and dance. The program really made me an independent learner. I was ready for this role thanks to all of the experiences that I was lucky enough to have,” said the CAPA alumnus.

Hicks says the lessons he learned outside the classrooms at CAPA were just as important as ones taught by his teachers.

“I like to think of myself as a really patient and nice person. When I got to CAPA, I really had to learn how to have thick skin. Sometimes things don’t go my way or I don’t get cast in a role I want, it’s having that honesty and truth from people that have been in my shoes or are in the shoes that I am trying to get into really developed me into a true artist,” he said.

The thick skin formed during his younger years made it easy for Hicks to take on any of the challenges the entertainment world threw at him.

“The first ‘no’ that I got, I was absolutely prepared for. My first ‘no’ was actually in Philly. Those hard Philly ‘no’s definitely prepared me for those hard New York ‘no’s, L.A. ‘no’s’ and just all around International ‘no’s. Having that grounding really humbled me as an artist, so I’m really grateful for those ‘no’s. They came from love,” said Hicks.

The Rent 20th Anniversary Tour will kick off the Kimmel Center’s new Broadway 2019-20 season when it returns to Philadelphia from Oct. 18–20 at the Merriam Theater. For more information, visit (215) 893-5749

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