fame

 

As a child of the 80’s, Fame brings back a lot of memories. 

 

You want fame? Well, fame costs! And right here is where you start paying in sweat! 

 

These words from the movie and the tv show are just as iconic as the shows logo, the impossibly high box jump, and the catchy theme tune that you just can't help singing along too.

 

Fame started as big screen story in 1980, chronicling the lives of a number of gifted teenagers dealing with the pressures of studying at the New York High School for Performing Arts. This then led to a TV series which ran from 1982 to 1987. The Oscar winning title track followed from the large screen to the small, where a couple more hits of “Starmaker” and “Hi-Fidelity” graced the charts on both sides of the pond.

 

In 1988, Fame transferred from stage to screen and opened on Broadway. From there it saw seven runs in London’s West End as well as a number of UK tours. Now in it’s 30th year, It continues to be one of the best loved musicals world wide.

 

This musical is significantly rewritten from its other incarnations, however the film is referred to several times in the script and in two songs.

 

The show explores a number of issues that confront many young people today as they did back in the 80’s: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance. The only thing missing from today's world are the drastic mullets.

 

The cast are led by Keith Jack (Any Dream Will Do, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) as Nick; a determined actor, Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks, Dancing on Ice, I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here) as Iris; a serious dancer from a poor family and 80’s pop star Mica Paris as Miss Sherman; their homeroom teacher.

 

At this performance there was a change to the advertised cast. Tom Mussell took over the role of Schlomo.

 

Every show has a gremlin moment in one performance and sadly for opening night it happened within the first 5 minutes with a complete loss of power to the lighting. The band and onstage cast carried on as best they could until the show came to a pause moments later. The announcement came that there would be a 15 minute recess whilst they reset all the lights.

 

Keith Jack has tread the boards for many a year and shows his expertise well. Jorgie Porter was more of a bit part for me, however her dancing was superb. I have to give credit to Miss Molly Maquire for her role as Serena. This was played very well. However, the moment of the night had to be Miss Mica Paris. She gave me goosebumps with a tremendous solo in the second act of These Are My Children. 

 

The simple set designed by Morgan Large, features a back wall of 80’s headshots like those found in a typical High School’s yearbook. This means that your focus is on the highly talented cast on stage and not on any eloborate set. Musical actors are regularly known as triple threats (sing, dance, act) but some of this show's ensemble add on stage instruments to that skill-set which is very impressive. There was a female drummer, a saxophonist/pianist and a trumpet player. The latter two have great stamina as they play, dance AND sing throughout a majority of the uptempo numbers. Musical Director Tim Whiting works wonders bringing all of this together with the pit band.

 

Grab your leotard, leg warmers and jazz shoes then step bull change down to the Regent Theatre, where  Fame: The Musical proves it will live forever and certainly flys high with its energy and foot tapping numbers.

Reviewed by Anthony Longden-Kirk at the Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.

Fame is at the Regent for 1 week only but continues its tour around the UK until the end of November.  For more information and tickets visit the shows website.