It may be nearly 40 years since Alan Parker‘s original Fame put its ‘name in lights’, yet the legacy (and the legwarmers) live on. Now, Selladoor Productions are touring the UK to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the musical production, which follows the lives of students at New York’s High School for the Performing Arts.
Initially, the musical depicts the joy and exultation of following dreams and making things happen in the supposedly glitzy world of dance, drama and music. The realities of that world combined with the real world, however, are shown to be tough, leading to an uncomfortable and all-too-familiar conclusion for those who are not able to cope.
Fame should be a high octane, energetic production teeming with colour and vibrancy; unfortunately, the musical has either become too aged or the cast are lacking the interest or triple-threat characteristics needed to make this production really pack a punch. Some of the footwork doesn’t fit with the supposed storylines meaning the plot becomes unbelievable. The overt crudeness of Joe’s character (Albey Brookes) doesn’t always sit well alongside the light-hearted humour – which gets many more laughs from the audience – and the costumes too are a bit lacklustre in their appearance. It all just feels a little jaded.
There are some stand-out performances that inject a degree of life into what would otherwise be a very average production; Mica Paris’ solo as Miss Sherman is simply outstanding, Jamal Kane Crawford plays Tyrone with just the right mix of swagger and vulnerability, and Molly McGuire presents an extremely likeable and funny Serena Katz.
The music and lyrics remain a gift for Fame, with every character and discipline given a chance to shine. Bring On Tomorrow continues to be the perfect graduation song as the show reaches its climax. That said, Fame the Musical needs some reworking if it is to “live forever” as the lyrics of its titular song suggests.