Fame the Musical is back! But is it gonna live forever?
The musical is based on the 1980 hit musical film Fame that we all know and love starring Irene Cara, with its leg warmers, George Michael Wham style hair and featuring the famous title song ‘Fame’.
This brand new production of Fame celebrates its 25th anniversary with a complete facelift by director Gary Lloyd for its 2014 UK tour. So, let’s wave goodbye to the 1980’s and see if the updated version brings Fame into the 21st century. Not an easy task to take on without taking some risks.
Set at the world famous High School for Performing Arts New York, Fame follows a group of young talented artists as they undertake the journey of their lives, distracted by romance, drugs and blinded by the intensity of their passion of the arts, which is too much for some at a school that insists that acting, drama and dance is the hardest job in the world.
The show opens with a mind blowing, fabulously choreographed song ‘Hard Work’. Followed by Joseph Giacone, playing a cocky Joe Vegas, giving a brilliant if what cheeky performance in the funniest song in the show ‘Can’t Keep It Down’, I’m glad my daughter or mother weren’t sitting next to me. It’s a little X-rated!
The stage is spectacular at all times, there was always something grabbing your attention. The band are 10 ft up on a separate platform complementing the set, which left you believing that you were there on West 46th Street.
The cast gave it their all, dancing, singing and continually bringing electric energy to the stage. During the first half I felt something was missing, maybe it was because it felt like the story line has been watered down? And to my disappointment when the title song ‘Fame’ was sung it lacked a certain something.
The second half of the show certainly made up for the first. Jodie Steele as Carmen Diaz continued to amaze you with her vocals and passion; she has a hard role to fill because you want to embrace her character, but the attitude that comes with Carmen makes it hard to love her. Landi Oshinowo as Miss Sherman silences the audience with her out standing solo ‘These are my Children’. Molly Stewart gets you laughing with her performance as Mabel Washington singing ‘Mabel’s Prayer’ and Joseph Giacone playing Joe Vegas was the comedian of the show. It really is full of non stop fresh young talent.
Naturally there are one or two members of the cast that stole my heart and the show. Alex Thomas simply shone through as he played the aspiring choreographer Tyrone Jackson who was struggling to complete his dance training. He was so watchable, I couldn’t take my eyes of him. He would stun the audience with dynamic dance routines. ‘Dancin’ On The Sidewalk’ was electric and then he took your breath away with a simply stunning ballet performance with Sasi Strallen playing Iris Kelly. Don’t even get me started on his physique, WOW!
There are a few niggly bits that need ironing out. The American accents weren’t perfect, lines were forgotten and the flow from each act wasn’t fluid. The show has the potential to be outstanding, which is actually frustrating. I’m hoping it’s just press night nerves.
If you’re expecting a traditional take on the show with the iconic New York taxi, prepare to be disappointed. However, if you’re going expecting a new fresh show, with amazing choreography, outstanding performances, mobile phones, iPads and even a little jukebox cheese at the end that will guarantee to get you up on your feet, then you’ll love it. For me I just wish there was a few more explosive Diversity style dancing routines and a stronger story line.
We live in a world driven by fame, therefore I believe this new upbeat version will reach out attracting a new generation to theatre and the arts. It leaves you with a feel-good sensation, one that you will always remember.
Fame will live forever! Even though my heart is still with the 1980’s version, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love this one too.
Just bring back the yellow New York taxi!