Review By Jase Whitehurst
Fame was originally conceived in 1976 and eventually came to life when the script was re-written by Alan Parker. With a score added by Christopher Gore, this concept became a film that won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song,
A TV version ensued – winning Emmys in both 1983 and 1984 – before it was adapted for the stage and became a box-office hit both on Broadway and in the West End. Since then, Fame has toured the world. The production currently at the Regent Theatre in Hanley celebrates its 30th Anniversary
The action takes place in and around the High School of Performing Arts on West 46th Street in New York between 1980 and 1984. The Musical follows the lives of the students at the New York High School for the Performing Arts as they navigate their way through their highs and lows, romance and heartbreaks and life itself. The show explores prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and, above all, perseverance.
The main characters are Miss Sherman (1980s soul and gospel legend Mica Paris), Nick (Keith Jack who was runner-up in Any Dream Will Do) and Iris (Jorgie Porter of Hollyoaks fame. She has also appeared on Dancing on Ice and I’m A Celebrity).
Although title track Fame may be the only really well-known song in the play – it reached the number one spot around the world when a version was released by Irene Cara – there is an abundance of toe-tapping tunes with the stand-out being “These Are My Children”. This is a beautifully moving song and the delivery by Mica Paris sends tingles down the spine.
The choreography in this production is breath-taking. There is beautifully performed ballet by Iris and Tyrone (Jamal Kane Crawford) while Jamal shows his moves along with the rest of the cast when delivering some scintillating breakdance and funk routines.
But the production is not just about the music and dance. It explores issues that remain relevant to modern youth interspersed with many comedy moments. Nick’s problems with one intimate piece of stage wear provide a particularly hilarious scene.
The Creative Team are to be congratulated as they turn the Regent into downtown New York. The set and scenery may be minimal but they are extremely effective with street lighting, taxi horns and passing subway trains adding to the experience. The profusion of leg warmers, lycra tights and sneakers also help to take the audience back to the 80s.
Fame – The Musical is fast-paced and a high-energy experience. It is also charming and rather touching and thought provoking. If you want to wallow in an 80s experience then this production is for you. Leg warmers and lycra tights are optional!!
One word of warning. Due to the issues covered and some of the language used this production may be more suitable for those over the age of 16
Fame – The Musical continues until Saturday the 20th of April. The Show commences at 7.30 pm each night with a matinee performance at 2.30pm on Wednesday and Saturday. The running time is approximately 2 Hours 30 Minutes in length including the Interval.
Tickets are available from www.atgtickets.com/stoke or by calling 0844 871 7649. Tickets start at £13.