King's Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
21 July 2017 (released)
23 July 2017
“Remember my name, FAME, I’m gonna live forever”… Anyone out there not familiar with the signature song of one of the most successful musicals (based on the, eh, hugely successful 1980’s movie of the same name) must have been living in the woods for the past few decades. All the more exciting that a cast of 160 very talented young people from across Scotland took to the stage to express their hopes, anxieties and dreams to become the stars of tomorrow – sweating it out during various disciplines at New York City’s High School of Performing Arts and of course, sweating it out for real on the stage of the mighty King’s Theatre!
The show kicked off with the audition and some truly dynamic dance numbers – who would be accepted into New York’s PA Academy? The key characters and the remaining performers of course! This being Scotland and not New Yaark, the first thing that couldn't be missed was the lack of multi-cultural students and wannabe-stars among the cast – only one pupil, a black boy called Michael Duncan, represented the academy’s multi-ethnical side. It would be a very different situation in London!
After the sensational start the key characters made their entrance. On the teacher’s side we had Mr. Myers (Taylor Williams) the drama teacher and occasional ‘shrink’, Mr. Sheinkopf (Fraser Kelsey) the music teacher with his amusingly over-the-top German accent, Miss Bell (Megan Forbes) the resolute yet protective dance teacher, and Ester Sherman (Charmain Leitch), the way strict and somewhat conservative English teacher. On the pupil front, to name but a few, were highly ambitious and incredibly serious Nick (Reuben Woodland), loudmouth goofball Joe (Adam Craig) who comes from a difficult home life, dyslexic and upfront Tyrone (Rory Mcleod) who is more interested in hip-hop than learning classic dance moves and Schlomo Metzenbaum (Gareth Williams) – a sensitive student of classical music who ends up setting up a rock band. We also got acquainted with insecure yet deeply romantic Serena (Melissa McNaught), forever-hungry Mabel (Sarah Kerr) and troubled Latino spitfire Carmen Diaz (Caitlin Tipping) who believes that if anyone deserves to be famous then it’s her.
As the lessons went on so did the interaction between the individual students with funny, emotionally charged, sad and happy results – interspersed by flamboyant dance numbers and of course the musical’s much loved songs such as ‘Hard Work’, the hilarious ‘Can’t Keep It Down’, ‘There She Goes, Fame’, ‘Bring on Tomorrow’, ‘Think of Meryl Streep’, ‘Dancing on the Sidewalk’ and many more. All the cast and key players proved worth their salt – Melissa McNaught’s voice in particular was mighty impressive, while special points have to go to Caitlin Tipping for dancing like a tornado in what must have been the tightest pair of hot pants ever – and not a single split seam!
Choreographers Louise Ferrier and Kieran Cooper did a sterling job but of course, the biggest round of applause must go to each and every one of the promising youngsters who so enthusiastically ensured that the audience (predictably lots of proud family and friends among them) had a smashing time too!
(The Beyond Broadway Experience (beyond-broadway.com/experience) is a proud supporter of the MGA Foundation, a Scottish charity aspiring to advance the performing arts education of young people living in Scotland).