For most teenagers in the 80s, turning on the TV on a Saturday afternoon was a ritual; you would get ready to stretch your muscles and warm up your vocal cords, to enter the world of Fame!
In the most famous performing-arts school, founded in 1936 by New York City’s then-mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, bright, talented kids still dream today of becoming world-renowned stars.
Fame the musical is now being brought again to the West End to let us love the dream once more, put on those dancing shoes and try to hit that note.
Many famous names have studied there: legendary stars such as Al Pacino, Jennifer Aniston, and more recently Nikki Minaj and many others.
Thousands still apply each year, eager to live the ultimate American dream.
We don’t have any doubts that all the brilliant singers, performers and actors that we see on stage in this very well-produced musical, would have been a perfect material for the school. Director Nick Winston spent months putting together this production, originally created by David De Silva; and it is pretty obvious that the performers have been carefully selected.
During the show, we follow the first artistic steps of talented young men and women, whose talent is shaped by the discipline, encouragement and competitiveness of the academy. One of the most compelling stories is that of young dancers Iris (Jorgie Porter) and Tyrone (Jamal Kane Crawford); their initial apparent differences end up bringing them together as a couple who can support each other’s steps; their moves are memorable: a marriage of ballet and street dance, brought by true incredible talent of their interpreters. You will remember their names.
Stephanie Rojas delivers a great performance as the multi-talented Carmen, who can sing, dance, but tragically can’t make the right life choices, and struggles to tame her monsters. Molly McGuire as Serena surprises with her young yet powerful voice, her cry of despair for what looks like a one-way love; or is it?
Mica Paris, as the headteacher Miss Sherman, puts up what is undoubtedly the strongest vocal performance, with her mature and moving voice who has the audience break into a long applause.
The lyrics cover the whole array of different feelings of a coming-of-age story; including humour, of course, often embodied by the extremely talented Alexander Zane (who interprets trumpet-player Goody), Hayley Johnston (Mabel) and Albey Brooks (Joe, with his fast-racing hormones).
The play is cheerful, the choreography is spot on, and the design of the stage Morgan Large brings that 80s’ schoolbook feeling (see if you can spot some of the interpreters among the photos!). The famous song written by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes will resonate in your head for the whole evening, and more.
How would you not want to live it forever?
Fame runs until 19 October. Tickets from £ 18 with no fees here
Review: Giancarlo Angelucci Photo: Alessia Chinazzo