Sellador Productions have breathed new life into this iconic 1980’s Film/TV series. Those of us who remember donning our leotard and legwarmers when the show aired, will love this production.
Conceived and developed by David De Silva and based on the book by Jose Fernandez, the show is set at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City. Based upon a real school in New York which opened its doors in 1936 and was the brain-child of the then Mayor Fiorello H LaGuardia, the school was open to kids from all backgrounds and successful entry was subject to their artistic skills, as well as academic achievement. The school expected the kids to train in all the disciplines, dance, music and acting to make them good all-round performers and produced well-known actors, Al Pacino and Friends’ favourite, Jennifer Aniston.
Tonight, Buxton Opera House welcomed the Fame crew to bring some much-needed sunshine to Buxton.
The audition process kicked off the show, followed by a rendition of ‘I Pray I Make P.A.’ quickly followed by ‘Hard Work’ as Miss Sherman drums into the students that they are there to work hard and learn. The play loosely follows the themes of the film although the familiar characters have changed, you can see similarities in their replacements.
In addition to the wonderful music and dancing, there are strong themes dealt with by the adolescents.
The importance of a good education and learning difficulties as experienced by Tyrone (Jamal Kane Crawford) with his dyslexia; love and sex, drug taking and rejection, which the students will have to learn to deal with.
In re-launching this show for the stage version’s 30th Anniversary, the Director and Choreographer, Nick Winston, spent months casting as he wanted the talent to be at the forefront of this production. The show is very much a showcase for excellence in dance and music, with live performances from musicians and singers peppered with signature dance routines.
Across the board, the dancing was extremely well choreographed and executed. The energy was communicated to the audience who joined in for the last rendition of ‘Fame’. Overall the acting was also to be commended, which can sometimes get lost on a busy stage show with song and dance taking over. There were some tender scenes, and references to Shakespeare, as they were performing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and Stanislavski (a Russian theatre director), as the students tried to hone their acting skills.
The staging had a backdrop of photographs which could be lit up and a moveable staircase as its centrepiece. Other more moveable pieces were on wheels and were quickly and easily moved by the cast as part of the show. This was well thought out as there were very few noticeable pauses for set changes during the show which meant the scenes flowed well. I do have my doubts about the photograph backdrop as it did not add anything in terms of the feeling of being in school, although the photos did act as a big high school yearbook!
As a night out at the theatre, it is a winner, as it’s lively and well presented. A definite success, and I hope that the people of Buxton turn out in greater numbers for the rest of the run!!
The show runs until Saturday 9th November 2019. To book go to https://buxtonoperahouse.org.uk/event/fame-the-musical
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 4th November 2019
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★