Fame The Musical

Oct 24 2018 | By More

★★★★☆     High energy

King’s Theatre: Tue 23 – Sat 27 Oct 2018
Review by Martin Gray

Grab your legwarmers as the King’s Theatre hosts Selladoor Productions’ high energy, if not Hi-Fidelity, spin-off from the Alan Parker film Fame.

On the way home after seeing Fame: The Musical there was no resisting putting the iconic hits on the car stereo. Hi-Fidelity, Desdemona, Starmaker … problem is, none of these are in the show. We do get Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore’s Fame – there’d be a riot if that wasn’t in there – but otherwise, the songs are all written for the show by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes.

The cast of Fame The Musical. Pic: Tristram Kenton

The cast of Fame The Musical. Pic: Tristram Kenton

I should be used to that by now, Fame: The Musical has been around since the late Eighties, and been to Edinburgh more than once. But still, still, I’m disappointed when the show starts with the downbeat dirge of Pray, which morphs into the dull Hard Work, as talented kids first dream of being at New York’s High School of Performing Arts, then learn they’re in, and what that really means.

There are some good songs in this show, three or four, as we check in on the students as they head towards graduation, learning about life and love along the way. Let’s Play a Love Scene, Dancin’ on the Sidewalk, Bring on Tomorrow and These Are My Children certainly wouldn’t have shamed the original movie or TV series that followed.

And the cast of this production do a great job putting them across, and make the most of the linking dramatic vignettes, even when a storyline is as undernourished as star singer Carmen’s predictable fall from grace.

Predictable? Yes indeed, within ten minutes of Jose Fernandez’s script kicking off it’s obvious that Carmen is Coco, Schlomo is Bruno, Tyrone is Leroy, Joe is Danny, Miss Sherman is Miss Sherwood and so on, so the dramatic arcs are pretty guessable.

no dancing on taxis

Miss Sherman may insist that this isn’t the TV series or film and there’ll be no dancing on taxis, but such meta-nonsense fools no one; this is Fame by any other name. By the same name, actually.

The cast of Fame The Musical Tour @ Palace Theatre, Manchester. Director and Choreographer Nick Winston. (Taken 19-07-18) ©Tristram Kenton 07-18 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

The cast of Fame The Musical. Pic: Tristram Kenton

And for what it is, it’s pretty enjoyable. The cast, led by soul star Mica Paris as Miss Sherman and featuring Edinburgh’s own Keith Jack as drama major Nick and Hollyoaks alumnus Jorgie Porter as dancer Iris is uniformly excellent.

It doesn’t matter what a character’s major is, this is a musical and all the main cast can sing, dance and act to a degree the Performing Arts kids would envy. As for the ensemble, they may not get a line, but they’re always around, stunning us with their moves. Plus, they’re almost certainly understudying one of the bigger parts… never underestimate these people!

Almost stealing the show as sensitive Schlomo is Simon Anthony, who impresses with his multi-instrumental ability and splendid singing before knocking everyone’s socks off with a spot of super-sexy flamenco in The Junior Festival sequence.

Molly McGuire as Serena is the perfect partner for Jack, the warmth and colour of her voice complementing his ever-more impressive tones. Stephanie Rojas as Carmen has a tough job, having to deliver a big ballad, In LA, while supposedly full-on junkie. She acts her socks off, looking truly anguished, despite her vocal chords sounding ridiculously healthy.


Jamal Kane Crawford is a powerful presence as Tyrone, the ballet boy from the streets, while Graham Hoadly’s Mr Scheinkopf (any resemblance to Mr Shorofosky is entirely non-coincidental) is a hoot.

The cast of Fame The Musical Tour @ Palace Theatre, Manchester. Director and Choreographer Nick Winston. (Taken 19-07-18) ©Tristram Kenton 07-18 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

Jorgie Porter and Jamal Kane Crawford. Pic Tristram Kenton.

And so on… open the programme, stick a pin anywhere, and you’ll snag a talented performer. Or maybe one of the production team, who deserve lots of credit too. From musical director Dustin Conrad to director/choreographer Nick Winston, they’re all doing a rather fine job.

Morgan Large’s production design is especially impressive, with the walls consisting of faces representing former pupils which light up and dance along with the numbers, at one point making a mean Stars and Stripes.

The lesson to be taken from this school is, leave your preconceptions at the door – this isn’t a stage version of the film, or the TV series, it’s its own thing. And for what it is, it’s pretty darn good.

Running time two hours 30 minutes (including one interval)
King’s Theatre, 2 Leven Street EH3 9LQ. Phone booking: 0131 529 6000
Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 October 2018.
Evenings: 7.30pm, matinees Wed, Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/fame

Tour website: http://fameuktour.co.uk/.

Fame: The Musical UK tour 2018/19:
23 – 27 Oct 2018 Edinburgh 
Kings Theatre
0131 529 6000 Book online
29 Oct – 3 Nov 2018 Ipswich 
Regent Theatre
01473 433100 Book online
5 – 10 Nov 2018 Brighton 
Theatre Royal
0844 871 7650 Book online
19 – 24 Nov 2018 Birmingham 
New Alexandra Theatre
0844 871 3011 Book online
26 Nov – 1 Dec 2018 Aylesbury 
Waterside Theatre
08448 717 627 Book online
Tour continues in 2019:
21 – 26 Jan 2019 Cheltenham
Everyman Theatre
01242 572573 Book online
28 Jan – 2 Feb 2019 Shrewsbury
Severn Theatre
01743 281281 Book online
4 – 9 Feb 2019 Bath
Theatre Royal
01225 448844 Book online
13 – 16 Feb 2019 Oxford
New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
18 – 23 Feb 2019 Wimbledon
New Wimbledon Theatre
0844 871 7646 Book online
25 Feb – 2 Mar 2019 Inverness
Eden Court Theatre
01463 234234 Book online
4 – 9 Mar 2019 York
Opera House
0844 871 3024 Book online
11 – 16 Mar 2019 Liverpool
0844 871 3017 Book online
25 – 30 Mar 2019 Grimsby
0300 3000035 Book online
1 – 6 Apr 2019 Swansea
01792 475715 Book online
8 – 13 Apr 2019 Sunderland
0844 871 3022 Book online
15 – 20 Apr 2019 Stoke
The Regent Theatre
0844 871 7649 Book online
10 – 15 Jun 2019 Bristol
0844 871 3012 Book online
24 – 29 Jun 2019 Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes Theatre
0844 871 7627 Book online
1 – 6 July 2019 Torquay
Princess Theatre
0844 871 3023 Book online
9 – 13 July 2019 Malvern
Festival Theatre
01684 892277 Book online
15 – 20 Jul 2019 Wirral
Floral Pavillion
0151 666 0000 Book online
12 – 17 Aug 2019 Canterbury
Marlowe Theatre
01227 787787 Book online
3 – 7 Sept 2019 Eastbourne
Congress Theatre
01323 412 000 Book online
11 Sept – 19 Oct 2019 London
Peacock Theatre
020 7863 8222 Book online

Keith Jack. Pic: Tristram Kenton


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