Wednesday, 29 December 1999

Fame: The Musical, Dec 28, 1999

Conceived by David de Silva 
Book by Jose Fernandez 
Lyrics by Jacques Levy 
Music by Steve Margoshes 
at The State Theatre from December 28, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

If you are sitting in your bedroom, waiting to be discovered, get out now. Fame High School is where you ought to be. But be prepared, 99% of its graduates disappear into oblivion - or perhaps just back into their bedrooms.

Fame, the movie, opened in 1980 and the High School of Performing Arts on which it was based, subsequently became known as Fame High.

Fame The Musical, is really entertaining. Musically, it is lively and well-sung by a fine young cast. Kelley Abbey has choreographed some colourful, peppy and eclectic routines.

Director, David Atkins, keeps the pace rocking along with seamless scene changes. He does not take advantage, though, of the entire set design. The scaffolding on the apron of the stage is used only once in the entire show while the staircases are climbed, danced on and moved about like Leggo.

However, Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore's original title song from the movie is by far the catchiest show tune in the production.

Do not expect to hear other songs from the movie. Fame (I Want To Live Forever), or rather half of it, is the only original number included. The cost of the original score was evidently prohibitive.

The lead roles are played by a fine collection of local and overseas talent.

The highlight was the golden vocal chords of Thelma Houston who is appearing in her first musical theatre production. Her duet, The Teachers' Argument, with Margi De Ferranti was a joy but her solo, These are My Children, was a tribute to this effortless voice with exceptional skill and range.

Choreographer, Abbey, is also on stage and is passionate and compelling as the tragic young would-be star, Carmen Diaz. de Ferranti, Tony Sheldon and Peter Collingwood are well-cast as the Dance, Acting and Music teachers.

Amongst the young actors, Miguel Ayesa is versatile, funny and magnetic as the precocious Jo Vegas. Peter Murphy employs his fine voice, reminiscent of a young John Farnham, as the romantic and diligent Nick Piazza. English performer, Leon Maurice-Jones, captures the bravado and vulnerability of the street-wise, school-shy dancer, Tyrone.

Fame The Musical is a good night in the theatre coloured with passion and joy tinged with some poignant moments.

by Kate Herbert

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