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Review of Fame The Musical at New Wimbledon Theatre

In 1980, “Fame” appeared on our cinema screens, conceived by producer David De Silva and directed by Alan Parker. Set in the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, it was a superb movie that portrayed the lives of the students and teachers at the school. It had superb three-dimensional characters, exuberant dance routines, it had pathos, it had tragedy, comedy and most of all it had a fabulous soundtrack of tremendous songs.

Then in 1988 came Fame The Musical which first came to the UK in 1995 and has been touring the country on and off ever since. This particular production which is billed as the 30th Anniversary Tour opened in Manchester in July of last year and doesn’t finish until this November having visited most big towns in the country.

Fame The MusicalUnfortunately, Fame The Musical is a pale carbon copy of the original film (and the television series that followed it) although this too was conceived by De Silva. The book is particularly weak (especially in the first act) comprising of a series of sketches and vignettes with no real character or plot development. There are so many major characters that we don’t get time to find out much about them and we really can’t empathise with their lives as everybody is two dimensional as they pass like ships in the night for a few fleeting moments as we move onto the next scene and another song. And that’s another weakness – the songs just aren’t strong enough and not vaguely memorable. In fact, the best song is the title song and the only one that survives from the original film. It’s so good that it’s reprised as the end of the show as an encore and it sent the packed Wimbledon audience out into the night dancing onto the Broadway as they made their way home.

There are a few references to the original film and there also characters that echo those in it but these are very faint and seem unnecessary and shoe-horned in. However, the thing that rescues the evening is the young cast playing the students who are on the whole excellent. The stand-outs are Stephanie Rojas as “Carmen” who gets to perform one of the best songs in the show “There She Goes/Fame” and Simon Anthony as multi-instrumentalist “Schlomo” although the rest of them are all very good too. However, the puerile dialogue and crude hand gestures of Alby Brookes as “Joe” were totally ill-conceived and unnecessary and I have no idea what director Nick Winston was trying to do. It did give the adolescent boys in the audience a cheap laugh which I suppose was the point of it but it stuck out like a sore thumb and even at one point it upstaged another actor.

One of the names above the title outside the theatre used to sell the show is Mica Paris who is best known for her singing, having had a number of hits over the years. Paris plays the school’s Principle “Miss Sherman” and whilst she has her moment in the spotlight with the gospel-tinged “These Are My Children” (one of the few truly emotional moments in the show), she along with the other three teachers are hardly seen and have very few lines between them – they must have a lot of spare time backstage!

Fame The Musical is, however, one of those shows that is critic-proof. Audiences love it and have a great time – I just wish that they were seeing the original – what a superb stage musical that would have made.

3 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

The definitive 30th-anniversary tour of Fame The Musical starring Keith Jack (Any Dream Will Do, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat), Mica Paris (Love Me Tender, Chicago, Mama I Want To Sing) and Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks, Dancing On Ice).

Based on the 1980 phenomenal pop culture film, Fame The Musical is the international smash hit sensation following the lives of students at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, the romances and the heartbreaks and the ultimate elation of life. This bittersweet but uplifting triumph of a show explores the issues that confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

Fame the Musical has seen seven West End runs since opening on Broadway in 1988 and continues to be one of the best-loved musicals across the world.

Featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of outstanding dancers, singers, musicians and actors as they transform from star-struck pupils to superstars. Fame The Musical will indeed live forever.

Please note, this performance is recommended for ages 12+ it contains sexual, drug, mental health references and mild swearing.

Running time: Approx. 2hrs 30mins (incl. interval)

WIMBLEDON
NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE
18 – 23 FEBRUARY 2019

INVERNESS
EDEN COURT
25 FEBRUARY – 2 MARCH 2019
01463 234 234

LIVERPOOL
LIVERPOOL EMPIRE THEATRE
11 – 16 MARCH 2019

GRIMSBY
AUDITORIUM
26 – 30 MARCH 2019

SWANSEA
GRAND THEATRE
1 – 6 APRIL 2019

SUNDERLAND
SUNDERLAND EMPIRE
8 – 13 APRIL 2019

STOKE
REGENT THEATRE
15 – 20 APRIL 2019

CAMBRIDGE
ARTS THEATRE
29 APRIL – 4 MAY 2019

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
MAAG HALLE
8 – 26 MAY 2019

BRISTOL
HIPPODROME THEATRE
10 – 15 JUNE 2019

DUBLIN
BORD GAIS
18 – 22 JUNE 2019

MILTON KEYNES
MILTON KEYNES THEATRE
24 – 29 JUNE 2019

TORQUAY
PRINCESS THEATRE
1 – 6 JULY 2019

MALVERN
MALVERN FESTIVAL THEATRE
8 – 13 JULY 2019

NEW BRIGHTON
FLORAL PAVILION
15 – 20 JULY 2019

PORTSMOUTH
KINGS THEATRE
22 – 27 JULY 2019

CANTERBURY
MARLOWE THEATRE
12 – 17 AUGUST 2019

BELFAST
GRAND OPERA HOUSE
19 – 24 AUGUST 2019

BOURNEMOUTH
BOURNEMOUTH PAVILION
26 – 31 AUGUST 2019

EASTBOURNE
CONGRESS THEATRE
2 – 7 SEPTEMBER 2019

LONDON
THE PEACOCK THEATRE
11 SEPTEMBER – 19 OCTOBER 2019

BUXTON
BUXTON OPERA HOUSE
4 – 9 NOVEMBER 2019

BARNSTAPLE
QUEENS THEATRE
12 – 16 NOVEMBER 2019

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Fame The Musical
Author Rating
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About Alan Fitter

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