The familiar line, “You want fame? Well fame costs and right here is where you start paying – in sweat!” usually heralded a new episode of the film turned TV series Fame, to a generation of TV viewers back in the 1980s. It was also the first line the audience heard, spoken by New York City School of Performing Arts principal, Miss Sherman (Mica Paris) in the latest stage production of the musical at Cardiff’s New Theatre on Monday evening.
The opening line wasn’t the only scene setter, a simplistic yearbook set backdrop of character profile shots, lit the smoke filled stage with neon lights. A soundscape of New York City could also be heard with the sound of car horns in the distance, while characters arrived on stage in chunky cardigans, spandex dance pants and leg warmers all giving a nod to 1980s fashions.,
Fame The Musical shadows the plot of the original film. As the ensemble cast line up for their first day of term, they are introduced to the audience via a counter-piece that overlaps dance, acting and music, describing each as the hardest profession. Soon the characters cross over into each other’s domain and the magical interaction begins.
High energy, tightly choreographed numbers let the dance moves do the talking. Stephanie Rojas as Carmen mesmerises with her rendition of There She Goes/Fame and later in a Flamenco dance number with the ensemble cast.
Jamal Kane Crawford as student with attitude, Tyrone, shares some stunning dance sequences with Jorgie Porter as Iris. Crawford’s greatest dance moment comes in act two as he performs Dancin On the Sidewalk while ensemble students revolve study desks around him to dance on.
Keith Jack turns out a superb portrayal of rising actor, Nick and performs a heartfelt rendition of I Want to Make Magic, while Nick’s love interest Serena, played by Molly McGuire holds the audience in the palm of her hands when she sings Let’s Play A Love Scene.
Other standout performances include Simon Anthony as Schlomo (who delivers an excellent take on Bring on Tomorrow with Stephanie Rojas), Hayley Johnston as the ever-hungry Mabel and Albey Brookes as Joe who always seems to command a laugh with his stage presence!
Mica Paris makes a firm but fair principal, Miss Sherman and certainly makes the most of her soulful performance of These are My Children, much to the audience appreciation.
Combining multiple genres with a definitive feelgood factor, Fame the Musical is nothing short of the best in stage entertainment. Fans of the original will love it, while there’s enough stage magic to bring it in to the 21st century for new appreciators.
Remember the name – Fame IS going to live forever and continues at Cardiff’s New Theatre until Saturday September 29!