Northwest Philadelphia native talks about breakout star role in RENT

The RENT farewell tour opens at Kimmel Cultural Campus' Merriam Theatre Friday and runs through Sunday.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- RENT, the 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour, comes to the Kimmel Cultural Campus on Friday.

This is a major moment for fans who have followed the award-winning, groundbreaking show for a quarter of a century.

It's also quite a moment for Northwest Philadelphia's Shafiq Hicks, starring in his first major role.

"To be in this role, at this age, doing what I'm doing with my background, it's really just astonishing that I'm here," Hicks says. "I feel like I'm definitely living a dream."

Hicks graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and he's a former Kimmel Education student.

This is a very full-circle moment for him.

Hicks is a voice major at Temple University, taking a gap year to star as Tom Collins in RENT.

He got the blessing of Jesse L. Martin, who originated the role on Broadway 25 years ago

"He kind of gave me his seal of approval. We got to sing 'Santa Fe' together in his living room," he recalls. "It was just a beautiful, beautiful moment."

The RENT farewell tour opens at Kimmel Cultural Campus' Merriam Theatre on Friday and runs through Sunday.

The tour was here back in 2019.

Hicks says can't wait to bring the show back home again, see his family and friends in the audience and grab a cheesesteak.
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