Fame the musical is a homage to the movie and the subsequent TV spin-off. The action takes place in and around the High School of performing arts on West 46th Street in New York City between 1980 and 1984. The productions pre-set image of two Manhattan skyscrapers and a little yellow taxi, with sounds of the city traffic, sets the scene where the audience is transported to the bustling inner city streets.
In the opening number we meet the budding performers waiting for their acceptance letter, teenagers dressed in sweatpants, legwarmers and oversized sweatshirts. From the off we see the ensemble are a talented bunch of dancers, singers and musicians; triple threats who have some inspiring choreography. However here is my first issue the actors are cast as teenagers and personally some are more believable then others but suspending this reality we meet the class of 1984.
Cleverly the production introduces each of the characters through a rollcall in home room, this is where we first encounter Miss Sherman played by Mica Paris. This stern powerhouse character is devoted to her pupils and Paris shines in the role with her only solo bringing down the house in the second act (before she closes the production with the title track in the encore). I would love to have heard more of her amazing voice.
As for the other characters they are love struck, brash, fame hungry and long-legged. We follow the development of the shy Serena into our leading star, the illiterate Tyrone who can bust a move, the comical Joe (who is far too fond of his appendage for my liking!), the musical genius Schlomo who is trying to escape his father’s stardom and the troubled Carmen who wants to live forever.
Throw in a few other bit characters; ballet dancer Iris (played by Jorgie Porter of Hollyoaks fame) who wants to keep up a pretence of being a French ballerina, the rock loving trumpet player, the grungy female drummer and the resident choreographer (who unfortunately doesn’t use the line “ you want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying in sweat!) And we have a drama school. Like the TV series there is more drama in the lunch room than there is the class room. Perfect for fans of the original movie for a trip down memory lane and a nostalgic 80’s night out. They may even have a lesson to teach the get famous quick millennials!