Big Time Rush show brings some members close to homeBY DENISE NEIL
The Wichita Eagle
Today's Big Time Rush concert is the big-time ticket seller at this year's Kansas State Fair.
The group, which no doubt will take the stage to big-time screaming this afternoon in Hutchinson, has some pretty big-time Wichita connections, it turns out.
Two members of the group are from the area: Singer Kendall Schmidt, one of the four lead singers, hails from Andover. And his buddy Dustin Belt, from Wichita, plays lead guitar.
Big Time Rush the band is a spin-off of "Big Time Rush" the television show a tween-targeted Nickelodeon comedy about four Minnesota hockey players who relocate to Hollywood and form a boy band. (My research required me to watch an episode, and it's pretty funny, complete with over-the-top, campy acting and sound effects. Teen show production value has improved dramatically since "Saved by the Bell.")
The show is so popular with the "iCarly" crowd that its coordinating tour is drawing huge crowds and squealing fans. Kansas State Fair officials expressed surprise that Big Time Rush outsold every other act on the bill this year, including REO Speedwagon, Daughtry, Kenny Rogers and Darius Rucker.
Kendall, 20, comes from a well-known family of Wichita acting kids. His older brothers, Kenneth and Kevin, both have had roles in several big-name television shows and movies through the years. Kevin famously appeared in the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen." And the Eagle published a story about a then 10-year-old Kendall in 2001 when he appeared in the movie "A.I." as a stand-in for star Haley Joel Osment.
Dustin also caught the Hollywood bug early. He and his sister, Britney, attended Buckner Performing Arts Magnet in Wichita, where a friend of their mother, Carol, suggested she get an agent for her talented kids.
She did, and about 10 years ago, the family relocated to Burbank, Calif. Both Belt children have appeared in several high-profile commercials, and Britney recently appeared on an episode of "Parenthood" as Emma, a friend of main character Haddie. There's a possibility she'll be back for more episodes.
By happenstance, the Belts realized that they lived just a few blocks away from the Schmidts in California and couldn't believe the coincidence.
The two families became friends, and Dustin and Kendall formed a band called Heffron Drive, named for the street they lived on.
Then, Kendall got the "Big Time Rush" role. When the group went on tour, he suggested Dustin for the band.
Coming back to Kansas is going to be fun for the two friends, Belt said during a phone interview this week.
Both will have plenty of Wichita friends and family in the State Fair audience, and Belt said he was amazed to hear how well the tickets to the show had sold.
"It's really surreal because I used to go to the fair every year growing up," he said. "It's weird that I'm going to be on that stage now."
If you go
Big Time Rush
What: Popular boy band with two members from the Wichita area. Opening act is Hot Chelle Rae.
Where: Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson
When: 4 p.m. today
How much: Tickets are $25 and do not include outside gate admission
For more information, visit www.kansasstatefair.com.
Visit Kansas.com to find complete fair coverage, including the schedule for today, the final day of festivities.
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