Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

'Les Misérables' tour is Dover 10-year-old's next challenge


He sang the national anthem before a stadium full of roaring fans at a University of South Florida game. He delivered a soulful rendition of Amazing Grace for the National Day of Prayer at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. He starred in leading roles of local productions of Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland and Mulan. • And, he accomplished all this before reaching a double-digit age. • Now, Dover 10-year-old Julian Silva will take his vocals on a tour of North America, showcasing his talents for audiences as far away as Canada in his role as Gavroche in Les Misérables.

Julian has prepared for this moment since he started singing opera at age 5. His inspiration: Il Divo, an operatic pop group formed by Simon Cowell. Silva actually got the chance to meet Cowell last year.

"I started mimicking them when I was 5," Julian said.

"He started singing in Spanish, a song by Il Divo," added his mother, Maria Silva. "So we got him singing lessons to find his own voice."

"Neither one of us sings," she said of her and her husband, Daniel Silva. "So it's a pure gift."

Two years later, he enrolled at Music Showcase in Brandon. Joy Rodgers, the theatre director, saw a star in Silva from the beginning.

"He was adorable," she said with a smile. "He never appeared nervous. He was a happy, secure little boy. He was at ease on stage. He totally immersed himself in the character."

They worked on stage presence in class. But for Julian, it came naturally.

"He would climb into the laps of the older kids," Rodgers said, noting the confidence Silva possessed, even at a young age.

That confidence comes through in his performances. He's not concerned about what others think, which is admirable for someone his age. When asked about stage fright, he said, "I get nervous, but once I get started, it goes away."

Back in the theater room, Rodgers chuckled as she told stories about the precocious young man with the spiked brown hair.

"He was so cute in his little red costume," she said recalling Silva's role as Mushu in Mulan. "It's not work to Julian. It's the pure enjoyment of being on stage."

Julian confirmed the same.

"Being on stage in front of everyone, acting, I love that," he said.

Before every show, Rodgers and the students get pumped up in the upstairs practice room. She has each student say something good about someone else.

Silva has his own warmup method, saying a little prayer before each performance.

To get into character, he does his research. He studies by watching movies and television shows. Even though Silva played Gavroche in a Les Misérables production put on by Riverview and Newsome high schools last year, he did see the new Les Misérables film, to perfect the character.

Gavroche, a street urchin sent to the streets of Paris by his parents, is Silva's favorite role to date. The character eventually dies. How hard was it for Julian to get into such a serious role?

"My character isn't afraid to die," he said. "I'm an actor, so I'm just acting it out."

This role in Cameron Mackintosh's stage version of Les Misérables marks the beginning of future success.

"I always wanted to be on Broadway, and here I am," he said. "I really want my own music on CDs, and someday I want my own tour."

He's almost there, too. After winning the title of overall child singer at the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ contest, talent scouts were eager to talk to his parents.

Once he finishes touring with Les Misérables, they want to sign with an agent.

You can already catch Silva in commercials for Networks Presentations' Les Misérables on local television. Then, beginning March 5, you can see him in the touring production at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.

Arielle Waldman can be reached at [email protected]

Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly a decade after it was first proposed, a new boutique hotel in downtown St. Petersburg is finally under construction.Workers are preparing the foundation of the Galaxy, an 11-story, 92-room hotel at Third Avenue N and First Str...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Amy Poehler, ‘Parks and Rec’ team in Twitter tussle with NRA and its ‘pro-slaughter agenda’

Amy Poehler, ‘Parks and Rec’ team in Twitter tussle with NRA and its ‘pro-slaughter agenda’

The NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation" was a show about the power of community and civic engagement that was created and run by outspoken gun lobby critic Michael Schur.It’s arguably not the best show for the National Rifle Association to reference on...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
U.S. curlers to play for Olympic gold after upsetting Canada

U.S. curlers to play for Olympic gold after upsetting Canada

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — John Shuster and his U.S. team will play for a gold medal against Sweden after a 5-3 semifinal upset over Canada, a country that has struggled at the Pyeongchang Olympics despite dominating the world of curling for year...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. That’s because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 16 minutes ago

St. Petersburg Shuffleboard club to hold soiree

ST. PETERSBURG — "Cocktails on the Courts" — an evening of Florida cuisine, libations, music, auctions, live mermaids, a two-headed calf and shuffleboard — will benefit the St. Petersburg Museum of History. The event will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Ma...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Note to readers: About those annoying popups on your phones

Note to readers: About those annoying popups on your phones

Dear readers, I hope that you are able to see this and that a popup saying you’ve won a gift card hasn’t taken over your phone. We have heard from many of you that these popups are preventing you from reading our news coverage.We hate them as much as...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

Pastor invites public to service at Manhattan Casino

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rev. Basha Jordan, grandson of St. Petersburg’s pioneer African-American businessman Elder Jordan, who built the historic Manhattan Casino, is inviting the community to join him and other pastors for a service at the facility on ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Celebration at Enoch Davis Center is Friday

ST. PETERSBURG — The Enoch Davis Center will host a free Black History Month celebration Friday. The program, which will run from from 6 to 8 p.m., will include activities for the entire family and food, entertainment, music and prizes. There will a...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Man rescued after boat swept away, capsizes in Little Manatee River

Man rescued after boat swept away, capsizes in Little Manatee River

RUSKIN — A man was rescued early Thursday morning after Hillsborough County deputies say his boat was swept away by a strong tide and capsized in the Little Manatee River.According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, a 911 call was received ...
Updated: 27 minutes ago

Crescent Heights neighborhood working to save historic church

ST. PETERSBURG — The Crescent Heights Neighborhood Association says it wants to save one of the area’s historic buildings from demolition.The association says the American Baptist Church of the Beatitudes, at 2812 Eighth St. N, is being sold to a loc...
Updated: 29 minutes ago