Sacred Heart Prep recent grad Armand Akbari wins Beach Blanket Babylon student competition
Recent Sacred Heart Prep grad Armand Akbari (left in photo above) knows how to close out his high school years on a high note. On June 3, he was one of three Bay Area winners of The Steve Silver Foundation & Beach Blanket Babylon 2019 “Scholarship for the Arts,” walking away with $15,000 to be used for his college education at USC in the fall.
“The reality didn’t hit me until I got home,” Armand said. “Being a finalist was an honor, winning was incredible.”
Armand describes himself as “inherently musical.” “I grew up singing to Disney movies and joined my first choir in second grade. By the time I was in 6th grade, I was serious about singing and performing.”
While at Sacred Heart Prep, he appeared in two school musicals and was the tenor section leader of the choir. He also performed with Children’s Musical Theater in San Jose. Currently he’s at the Gatehouse Theater in San Francisco.
“I’m one of the younger company members,” he said. “There are lots of college students involved. I’m an understudy to two different roles in Heathers the Musical.
The other two “Scholarship for the Arts” winners were Kyleigh Colchico (Dance) from Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord performing to Leave A Light On and Dante Cokinos (Acting) from Novato High School in Novato performing a monologue from Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau.
The celebrity panel of judges included Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Tracy Chapman; actor and American political satirist Will Durst; composer and philanthropist Gordon Getty; Q102.1’s Chuy Gomez; Suzanne Grodner, cast member from the national tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; famed opera composer Jake Heggie; SFJAZZ Center’s Founder and Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Chief Producer Jonathan Moscone; ODC Founder and Artistic Director Brenda Way; and jazz and cabaret singer Paula West.
While Beach Blanket Babylon is set to close December 31st after a 45-year run, producer Jo Schuman Silver said: “The Steve Silver Foundation & Beach Blanket Babylon and its Scholarship for the Arts will continue in some form.” More information on the scholarship program is available online.
Caption for the group shot: From left to right: Armand Akbari (Voice), Producer Jo Schuman Silver, Dante Cokinos (Acting), Beach Blanket Babylon cast member Tammy Nelson, and Kyleigh Colchico (Dance)
Photos by Rick Markovich