King’s Theatre Edinburgh (venue)
23 October 2018 (released)
25 October 2018
“You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying in sweat.” Welcome to the class of 84 where a bunch of new hopefuls are indeed sweating it out at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts. In this latest stage version, courtesy of Selladoor Productions, we witness the trials and tribulations of its students and of course, the key characters of FAME – THE MUSICAL.
Based on the 1980’s smash movie by Alan Parker, this stage adaptation is pure dynamite from beginning to end and kicks off with a bunch of multi-cultural new students all eager to graduate at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts so that one day, their dreams of fame may become reality. Of course, only a few will make it but this rather unpleasant fact won’t stop any of the new students in their tracks.
Soon though, some wake up to the realisation that there really is a difference between wanting to be famous and actually achieving it! Slightly ‘overweight’ Mabel (Hayley Johnston) struggles through her ballet lessons as her constant hunger pains prevent her from fully focusing on her steps and movements (never mind gracious movements), much to the chagrin of resident choreographer Miss Bell (Katie Warsop). Mabel utters one of the production’s funniest lines when she sends up actress Vivien Leigh’s iconic remark “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” in the 1939 movie epic Gone With The Wind.
Meanwhile, Tyrone (Jamal Crawford) – a talented but dyslexic black kid from a poor ghetto background – prefers hip hop moves to classical ballet. His determination for all things dance (in particular of course hip hop!) earns him the respect of Miss Bell but places him at loggerheads with Miss Sherman (Mica Paris), the fair but strict English teacher. Later on, Miss Sherman and Miss Bell almost have a fall out over Tyrone whose ‘complicated’ romance with fellow ballet student Iris (Jorgie Porter) doesn’t exactly help things.
Then we have Schlomo Metzenbaum (Simon Anthony) – a shy violinist who is expected to step into the footsteps of his talented family where everyone is perfect, hence Schlomo loves nothing more than to riot by setting up a rock band together with Goody King (Alexander Zane) – a sax/trumpet player, and tomboy Grace ‘Lambchops’ – the band’s drummer. Their combined dream of a rock n roll band doesn’t meet the approval of stern and ultra-conservative German music teacher Mr. Scheinkopf (Graham Hoadly) who rather sees his protégés performing Mozart! Goofball and cocky Joe Vegas (Albey Brookes) comes from a Hispanic background and thus reckons it makes him the perfect love interest for troubled Carmen Diaz (Stephanie Rojas) – a fellow Spaniard obsessed with fame but unfortunately also with drugs, in particular heroin. Instead, Carmen opts for the quiet and sincere charms of Schlomo who, despite caring for her, can’t prevent a tragedy in the making when Carmen leaves the Academy during the middle of the 11th grade to seek fame and fortune in LA. Soon after she returns to NY as a down and out drug addict who had been molested by her Hollywood agent.
Shy yet nerdy Serena Katz (Moly McGuire) has a crush on fellow thespian Nick (Keith Jack) who is already semi-established thanks to his work for commercials yet longs to be a serious actor in serious roles. No wonder well-meaning drama teacher Mr. Myers (Cameron Johnson) has his hands full bringing out the best in his students.
This then is the template for FAME and during the production we hope, we yearn and we suffer with these hard-working students – interspersed with fiery dance numbers and smash songs such as ‘Hard Work’, ‘I Want to make Magic’, ‘Can’t Keep it Cool’, ‘What About Me’, ‘Think of Meryl Streep’, ‘These are My Children’ and of course the musical’s signature song ‘Fame’.
The production is an absolute cracker with all the cast delivering ultra-professional and utterly convincing. Great singing, great dancing, great choreography, great acting!
FAME the musical runs at the King’s Theatre until Sat 27th Oct (www.capitaltheatres.com)