HEGINS - A brother-sister duo from Hegins has garnered a rare chance to wow local audiences, while performing before professional entertainers from Branson, Mo.
Gabrielle and Kieffer Quandel will open for Red, Hot and Blue on Saturday at Tri-Valley High School in Hegins. The program, sponsored by Valley Lodge No. 797, features seven multi-talented performers from the Clay Cooper Theatre in Branson. Now in their 18th season, Red, Hot and Blue was awarded for having the best morning show, best costumes and best vocal and dance group. They'll be offering a dose of American music through the decades - from the 1940s big bands to boy bands.
The musical production is a fundraiser for the local Masons as they champion community causes.
For Gabrielle, 16, and Kieffer, 14, they're looking forward to the engagement and the challenge.
"We're going to play at the matinee and the evening performance, and we've been invited to go to dinner with them in between shows," Gabrielle Quandel said. "I'm hoping we'll get a chance to talk to them and make some connections," she said.
As the teen performers have gained more experience in front of crowds, they've already acquired a broad fan base and made connections with appreciative admirers.
The pair found favor with a Schuylkill County audience last February, when they both auditioned and competed in the Schuykill Junior Idol competition. Gabrielle placed in the top three, while Kieffer was among the top six finalists. They also sang at Community Day in Hegins Park.
Gabrielle, a Tri-Valley sophomore, opened for the group Re- Creation for their winter shows at Tri-Valley High School and three times during Re-Creation's productions at Community Day.
They have also participated in Tri-Valley Drama Club stage productions, where Gabrielle encouraged her brother, an 8th-grader, to join.
"I told him that he'd fit right in and that we'd both enjoy it," she said.
More recently, Kieffer was one of the lead student performers in the Sovereign Majestic Theatre's sold-out production of "Annie: KIDS," on Nov. 23 and 24 in Pottsville. He played Daddy Warbucks.
"It was a fun experience and I made a lot of new friends," he said. "I've been doing the high school musicals and plays and I've always been one of the younger ones. It was really a big change for me to work with some younger students and I loved being in a leadership role."
Both siblings have found success with their vocal and instrumental skill.
Gabrielle earned a spot at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Schuylkill County Chorus, as first chair in second soprano and was 17th for PMEA District 10 second soprano. She will sing in the District 10 concert Jan. 9 to 11, 2014, at Daniel Boone High School.
On Jan. 12, she'll be auditioning in Philadelphia for "The Voice," a televised singing competition.
Kieffer placed third tenor in Schuylkill County Chorus and second in piano accompanist; and in District 10, he placed seventh for piano accompanist and was two places off for making it into the district chorus as a tenor.
Both teens recently earned three trophies each at a performing arts competition Nov. 29 in King of Prussia, where others from the Sovereign Majestic Theater also performed.
Just a few weeks ago, Gabrielle completed recording her first album, called "Stronger Alone." She composed the lyrics and music for six songs on the album, which was recorded at a New Jersey recording studio under the guidance of Jon Seymour. Her father, Greg, had known someone who had connections to Seymour and that's how she got her break, Gabrielle said.
"I thought it (studio) would be a lot bigger. It had all sorts of sound-proof padding around and you have to put headphones on because you can't hear them (the sound mixers) through the door," she said. "It was so much fun and I'm really excited for what's coming up."
Her brother accompanied her on her original song, "Tonight."
"The piano at the studio was amazing. It sounded perfect. It was a great experience that my sister allowed me to play her song," Kieffer said.
Gabrielle's future plans are to attend Penn State University, studying pre-veterinary medicine, with a minor in musical theater. She'd like to spend a year touring with Re-Creation, visiting veterans' hospitals around the nation and performing.
Kieffer also wants to pursue a musical career.
"I would love to go for music education. I hope that I could get my students to become as good as I am, or even better," he said.
The teens say they practice singing or playing an instrument every day.
"Winter is our busy season. Everyone's inside. We'll bring the music to them," Gabrielle said.
The pair is still deciding what they're going to perform for the Hegins show. Among the options are "Mocking Bird" by Toby Keith; a possible Christmas duet with guitar and piano; and a solo each.
There are two shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person. Tickets for Red, Hot & Blue are available by calling 570- 682-5867, 570-682-9266 and 717-365-3067; by email at valleylodge- email@example.com; or by mail at P.O. Box 508, Valley View, PA 17983. Make checks payable to: "Valley Lodge Hall Assoc." Tickets are also available at Morgan Oil Inc., 1137 E. Main St., Hegins. For more details, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
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