Having never seen the show, the film or the series before, I went into Fame completely unaware of what to expect beyond ‘I’m gonna live forever’ and a lot of leg warmers. What I got was a cast that gave it their all, for a show that is definitely not destined to live forever. And there weren’t as many leg warmers as expected…
The storyline of Fame is disjointed at best - it follows the entire schooling of a group of theatre kids, from their first day until their graduation. There are, of course, big jumps in the timeline throughout the show. This is to be expected when you’re trying to cram three years into less than three hours, but it just felt like nothing flowed properly. The show jumps from dance class to band rehearsals to the school corridors at an alarming rate, and I was never quite sure what the storyline was hoping to achieve.
However, the cast did a great job with what they were given. Hollyoaks’ Jorgie Porter was fantastic as Iris because her ballet skills are breathtaking, and she worked perfectly with Jamal Kane Crawford who played the role of Tyrone: hip hop dancer and would-be choreographer with a chip on his shoulder and a dyslexia diagnosis. The characters in the show are clichés, of course, but in this case they were well-played clichés.
Other well-played clichés include Joe Vegas, portrayed by Albey Brookes (the character is cheeky, obnoxious, sexual - and Albey has this down pat), as well as Hayley Johnston’s Mabel: “overweight” (I don’t know about other castings of this show, but Hayley is no more than a size 8) dancer who has an absolutely infectious charm. Lambchops, played by Louisa Beadel, was a quiet favourite of mine; she isn’t a major role within the whole storyline, but I found her to be funny and she definitely stood out for me.
Speaking of standing out, there were two stand-out vocalists I have to mention. The first is Stephanie Rojas, who played the role of Carmen: fame-driven dance major who seems angry at the world (though nobody knows why) and ends up leaving the school to head to LA with ‘an agent’ to ‘really make it’. Yeah, right. Stephanie’s voice is incredible, however, and she was a joy to watch in the role. Secondly, Mica Paris in the role of straight-up English teacher Miss Sherman - her rendition of These Are My Children was absolutely phenomenal. It seemed only right to have these two vocal powerhouses bring the audience to their feet at the end of the show with the reprise of Fame, too.
A few of the other songs were notable, too: Molly McGuire as Serena’s Let’s Play a Love Scene, and Dancin’ on the Sidewalk by Tyrone and the other students. However, the soundtrack isn’t one that sticks in your mind. At least it hasn’t in mine, and I only watched it last night.
All in all, I was disappointed. The cast are multi-talented dancers, actors, singers (and musicians, too) working with a lukewarm script, a dated story and songs that don’t pack a punch.
Reviewer: Katy Gilroy
Reviewed: 15th July 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★