Let’s admit it, when we think of the classic 1980 smash hit film, we can’t help but picture leg warmers, over enthusiastic wannabes and dancing on cars throughout New York City. I am pleased to report that last night’s performance of Fame - The Musical at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield evoked much more depth within the narrative explored. This tour is designed to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the well-loved film, and celebrate it does indeed! The entire theatre was a buzz from the moment I entered to the moment I left. As soon as we took our seats in the packed theatre, we were transported to the electrifying yet slightly bleak streets of New York City, with a soundscape of car horns, frantic chattering and thick traffic perfectly setting an atmosphere for the performance ahead.
The musical is very unique in the sense it is not a simple recreation of the 1980s film, it is more an extension to what we have already witnessed, providing a harsh look on the reality of longing for fame. Fame The Musical follows a new group of students during their experience at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts, but instead of creating an illusion of instant success, it ties together many challenges faced as these innocent students take a giant step into stardom. The musical is bittersweet as we witness the evolving talent of these young artists, juxtaposed within harrowing themes such as prejudice, substance abuse, literacy, pride and identity.
The passion and enthusiasm of the director, Nick Wilson was evident from the electric opening number to the heart wrenching rendition of ‘Bring on Tomorrow’ concluding the musical. Wilson’s cast included TV Star Jorgie Porter in the role of Iris Kelly, the singing legend Mica Paris taking on the challenging role of Headmistress Miss Sherman and ‘Any Dream will Do’ runner up Keith Jack in the role of Nick Piazza. However, it was some of the lesser known faces that, for me, stole the show during the exhilarating performance. As the musical began, it was Molly McGuire that immediately drew my attention in her hopeless role of Serena, a love struck, eager and adorable student who is desperate to be liked. McGuire’s voice was flawless during every musical number she graced us with. The outstanding control and warmth to her voice was captivating and effortless, a truly natural performer in the making.
Other stand out performers included Stephanie Rojas interpretation of the troubled Carmen, truly shining in her final moments on stage. The role of Carmen is possibly the biggest challenge within this musical, and Rojas rose to this challenge, perfectly drawing us into Carmen’s dangerous lifestyle and need for adoration. Morgan Large’s design for the production was the perfect, gritty relief for a show with such extravagant musical numbers. The set flawlessly transformed from the intense dance studios within the school, to the bleak reality lying outside for these young hopefuls on the street.
There were moments of the musical that did appear to be slightly over played by some members of the cast, which unfortunately broke the illusion the creative team obviously worked so hard to achieve. However, these moments can be forgiven within the somewhat excessive style of the production’s narrative, and this is definitely a show for the more enthusiastic theatre lovers, as there is no escaping the infectious energy on stage.
Reviewer: Christine-Jane Parkes
Reviewed: 9th October 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★