Fame The Musical theatre review: This is the 30th Anniversary tour of the musical Fame, the hugely successful and much-reperformed production, which was first released in 1988. The show has been on and off Broadway and premiered in London’s West End in 1995. The 1980s film and the chart-topping hit are well-known karaoke staples and performed by many a wannabe stage performer. This version of the show still retains the big number but most of the musical score is rewritten. For those not familiar with the show, it provides a great hook, but the show clearly has a loyal fanbase, as the audience was buzzing from the start.
The story is set in New York and based on the New York School of Performing Arts and follows the story of the class of 1980, from their audition through to their graduation. The audience is treated to the worries, love, competition, drug use of the students as they struggle through the course. The fast pace and pressure of the school environment come across from the get-go, with every student pushed to perfect and to perform. Nothing the students do comes without hard work and they all believe they are doing the hardest job, whether they are musicians, actors or dancers. The students take ballet, music and English lessons and have to juggle the challenges of making their academic grades while becoming the top performers in their discipline.
Jorgie Porter of Hollyoaks fame plays Iris, a beautiful graceful ballet dancer who has great belief in her own destiny as a performer. Jamal Crawford is the mirror opposite and has a rawness and vibrancy which is hard to beat in his role as Tyrone. Iris and Tyrone fall in love as opposites attract, and they make a beautiful couple but their relationship is challenged as she thinks he may just be using her to boost his academic grades.
Their pairing provides the central love story, but most of the rest of cast end up coupling up. This possibly ends up diluting the overall impact of the romantic clinches as everyone is falling over themselves in love. This overall lack of impact and gripping emotional connection to the characters is the only real flaw in this performance. The stage was set well with an effective yearbook style backdrop, and scenes created simply from one or two props to give the impression of the college interior.
There were standout performances including Stephanie Rojas as Carmen. Overall show was extremely busy on stage if you had a favorite performer you could easily focus on them and forget the rest while admiring their energy and moves. The large cast and musical group gave the show volume and impact, and there was a huge amount of energy poured into the show by all including the audience.
The biggest reaction of all songs was probably the one sung by the very talented Mica Paris, playing the school principal, Miss Sherman. The character is a tough one who is pushed to the limit by Tyrone’s refusal to push himself academically. She challenges the students to be the best they can be, yet she reveals a vulnerable side of her character; a mother figure who is proud to be nurturing their talent. Her performance in the song ‘These are my children’ was extremely powerful and showed off the best of her vocal talents.
Fame is full of energy and was a hit with the audience, and was a great optimistic slice of 80s nostalgia.
Fame is running at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until 9h October 2018.