January 19, 2018

Willy Wonka Program (pictures)


Sophmore performs on Las Vegas stages (December 2007)


Print Ad for High School Musical (July 2009)


A Sweet Pefomance (Henderson Home News 2-6-07)


Young Singing Trio


Show a launch pad for some (Henderson Home News 2-6-07)


Just For Kids (11-29-04)


Super Singers (Henderson Home News 12-22-06)

Upon first impression, 10-year-old Ariel Higuchi seems like a quiet, shy young lady, but looks can be deceiving.

Once the soft-spoken Selma Bartlett Elementary School student clutches a microphone and steps on stage, it’s a different story.

For more than a year now, Higuchi has been performing with Showbiz Kidz, a Henderson Parks and Recreation Department-sponsored singing group that travels throughout the Las Vegas Valley doing shows year-round.

“I really like singing and I want to get ready for middle school choir,” she said, explaining that her current school does not have a choir.

Henderson resident Steve Fortgang started the group in 1993 to give kids an outlet for their talents, he explained before a Dec. 7 rehearsal at Silver Springs Recreation Center.

“There’s not a lot of opportunities for talented kids to show Las Vegas their abilities,” he said as he set up microphones and other equipment.

A music specialist at Hal Smith Elementary School in east Las Vegas, Fortgang directs the 16-member performing group with his wife, Delly.

Fortgang defined the performers as high-energy singers, meaning they do not stand stationary like a choir. The performers, between the ages of 8 and 15, dance in place for the most part, and at times they act out the music with gestures.

While rehearsing for their holiday show, the Showbiz Kidz performed in front of a wall-size mirror in a recreation center classroom. The holiday show includes holiday music, pop favorites, patriotic songs and selections from the Disney Channel hit original movie, “High School Musical.”

Fortgang, whose two sons are in the group, said Showbiz Kidz members always have been very talented since he started the group 13 years ago. He added that one of his students, Jeff Marx, co-wrote the music and lyrics for the musical “Avenue Q,” and that several other former students are now in college studying music.

“I feel proud of the accomplishments these students have made,” Fortgang said.

Barry Fortgang, 13, said what he loves about performing is putting a smile on audience members’ faces. The Green Valley High School freshman, who also is also a member of his school choir, has starred in school plays and is a baseball player, loves to perform oldies and Frank Sinatra songs.

“I want to grow up to be a baseball player or a singer on the Strip,” he said when asked about his future.

Kids do not have to try out for the group, Steve Fortgang said, but new members must start in the rehearsal group, which meets separately from the performing group. Members stay in this group until they learn the songs and choreographed routine, he said.

“It’s open to anybody interested in singing and performing,” Fortgang said.

The group’s next holiday performance will be at 1:30 p.m. today at McCarran International Airport.

For more information on the group or to join, call Silver Springs Recreation Center at 267-5720

All the World’s A Stage (Anthem View 9-11-02)

SHOW BIZ KIDS: All the world’s a stage

Young stars get a shot of self-esteem


The girls’ pony tails bopped back and forth to “Greased Lightning” while the boys charmed the mirror in the practice room with their smiles. These kids don’t mind being in front of a crowd. They love it. They don’t get nervous — until they’re asked a second time and admit to a bit of the willies — and they say their reward is the audience’s smiling faces.

This bright self-confidence is the main goal of Show Biz Kids, a singing and dancing group out of Henderson’s Silver Springs Recreation Center, 1951 Silver Springs Parkway.

On a Thursday afternoon, Steve and Delly Fortgang brought the kids together to rehearse numbers like “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Achy Breaky Heart” and “God Bless the U.S.A.” in preparation for today’s memorial concert at the Galleria at Sunset mall.

Through upbeat instrumentals, the children take turns at the microphone, belting their hearts out to different genres of music such as the 1960s, show tunes, patriotic and popular modern songs. Performing different types of music is part of the training process, director Steve Fortgang said. After all, many of the children would like to turn their hobby into something more.

“They’ve got a big head start. Their self-esteem is way, way up,” said Fortgang, who is also the music teacher at Lamping Elementary. “They’re not afraid to get up in front of a crowd and knock them dead.”

Steve Fortgang moved to the Las Vegas Valley nearly 10 years ago with a song in his heart. A longtime band leader, he was disappointed at the lack of live music in town at the time. He picked up on a children’s music project — which inspired five Miami-based record albums — and Show Biz Kids was born.

“This is fun for me. You can see the enthusiasm the kids have and it catches on,” Fortgang said. “It’s contagious.”

Children begin in a training class, where vocal exercises help them develop their voices for the 18-member performing group. Some children take one six-week session and advance, while others take time to strengthen their skills.

“Everybody’s not the same. Some people have to work a little harder,” Fortgang said. “All of them are singers. It depends on how much they practice.”

And they do practice — in the shower, in the car, at church and at school — to pop stars Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera, rapper Nelly and country princess Shania Twain. Anytime they have time, they like to sing, said Emily DeAngelo, 8..

“A lot of (the songs the group sings) I can really use my voice,” said DeAngelo. “It makes me feel good to make someone else feel good.”

“When I was 4 all I did was lay in bed,” said Barry Fortgang, who performs with the group. “My mom taught me how to sing when I was 2. I like to sing and look at the people who are smiling.”

Performing is serious business to these entertainers, but they insist on having fun with it.

“I think ‘Shoot. I made a mistake.’ And I just party on,” said Heather Brown, 10.

Many students drop out once they reach middle school to participate in their school’s choir. For Steve Fortgang, the 8- to 12-year-old age group is perfect for vocal and confidence development, as well as possibly encouraging the next “American Idol.”

“They all love music. If they want to go into a career, they could,” Steve Fortgang said. “One thing we try to do is make success unavoidable.”

The Show Biz Kids will perform today at the Galleria at Sunset mall, 1300 Sunset Road, in the Robinson’s May court at 5 p.m. Classes begin tomorrow. Those interested can contact the Silver Springs Recreation Center at 435-3814.

Show Biz Kids, which meets at Henderson’s Silver Springs Recreation Center, helps kids as young as 4 cultivate their song and dance skills. The group performs today at the Galleria at Sunset.