Remember their names
Middle school talent to light up the stage in ‘Fame Jr.’
February 15, 2012
It’s been three years since Big Bear Middle School took the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center stage by storm with “Seussical Jr.” Middle school teacher Suzy Carpenter is once again pulling out all the stops and preparing talented students for a big return with “Fame Jr.”
If you grew up in the 1980s, you remember the hit film “Fame” and subsequent television series that ran for five years. And if you hear the music, you can likely still sing the theme song by Irene Cara.
Based on an actual performing arts high school in New York City, “Fame” follows the lives, struggles and triumphs of students and staff from freshman year through graduation. Day-to-day issues that kids work through during this challenging time of life are seen through the eyes of students who are also focused on honing their talent and competing to become the best of the best.
“Fame” didn’t disappear with parachute pants, neon accessories and Aqua Net hair. It lived on with a musical production of the same name that has been on stage worldwide since 1988. The original film, series and stage production present many serious topics, but “Fame Jr.” has been reworked and written specifically for younger kids.
“This is a watered down version,” Carpenter says. “We don’t talk about the drugs, obviously there’s no sex or drugs.” It’s all about performers expressing themselves and what they go through on a daily basis in a performing arts school.
Cortney Seifert Warmsley of Dancers Anonymous is on board to help choreograph the dance scenes. The middle school level dance class will be included in the production. Even though the class has fifth- and sixth-graders in it, Carpenter is happy to have them involved.
“I was trying to showcase the middle school, but I think the more people that we can showcase (the better),” Carpenter says. “If you just go and dance all the time and never get to go on stage and perform, what is the point?”
And the showcasing doesn’t begin on the stage. Carpenter’s vision starts the moment audience members walk into Hofert Hall. There will be kids sitting on the floor, sitting in chairs, playing guitars and other instruments, dancers warming up and dancing—all to create the feeling you’re actually walking into a performing arts school.
Carpenter had been on the waiting list for this show and was able to get it the minute it was released last December. She says it’s exciting that Big Bear Middle School will be one of the first schools performing “Fame Jr.” and to be able to offer an opportunity to so many kids to show off their talent.
“It’s going to be a coming out for some of these kids,” Carpenter says.
“Fame Jr.” is on stage at the PAC March 16 and 17. Curtain time is 7 p.m. Admission is $11 for adults and $9 for students. Proceeds benefit the middle school performance department.
For tickets, call the PAC box office at 909-866-4970. For more information on the school production, contact Carpenter at 909-866-4634.
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