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Home > Current Buzz > FAME Workshop in Dubai
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Baby remember my name

Adam Zacharias
May 2010

Whatever your performing talent, the producers of Dubai’s latest show Fame the Musical want to hear from you.

AUDITIONS BEGIN THIS Friday for Fame the Musical, giving both youngsters and adults the chance to star in the ever-popular tale of wannabes and dreamers.

The theatrical hit will make its Middle Eastern debut on July 14 at The First Group Theatre in the Madinat Jumeirah, which will host a total of six performances.

Based on the 1980 film Fame, the musical follows students at the New York School of the Performing Arts as they strive for perfection in their given field – whilst also struggling with insecurities, egos and romantic attractions.

Actors, singers, dancers and musicians combine for a tumultuous and exhilarating show, which has become a West End staple since its first run in 1995.

Popular Productions, the company that brought High School Musical, Annie and Blood Brothers to Dubai, will once again steer the show together with sister company West End Stage Experience.

“Whether you’re a ballerina, street jazz dancer, classical violinist, singer, actor or even comedian we urge you to audition,” said co-producer Lucy Blakeman. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for young performers who have dreamed of starring in a high-profile stage musical to make their dreams a reality.

“Every year we discover more and more talent in the UAE, and this year promises to be competitive, challenging yet fun for performers.”

City Times spoke with John Payton, who will direct and co-produce the upcoming production of Fame the Musical, at his London home
What’s your theatre background?

After reading English at university, I trained as a director at a theatre company in London and I’ve been directing for the last seven or eight years. I’m doing a lot of tours in the Middle East, but I also work as a freelance director in London, where I’m directing Footloose in August. I’ve acted in the West End and on tour as well, and for the last five years I’ve been producing. This will be my fifth production of Fame.
How heavily do you usually rely on local talent for your Dubai productions?

In the last two years, we’ve done three productions – High School Musical, Annie and High School Musical 2. The High School Musicals were completely filled with local talent. They played all the lead roles and that’s what we champion. With Annie, we had an awful lot of local talent, but also some professionals from the West End because we couldn’t find the people we needed for those roles in Dubai.

The ‘Fame School’ workshop is going to be very intensive for those involved. What’s the purpose of it beyond everyone learning their parts?

The point is they get the experience that a professional gets. We don’t take just anybody – only the very best get through. It’s a very limited amount of time in rehearsals, we’re looking at two and a half weeks. That’s full-time, sometimes seven days a week – it depends on how the show’s going – right up to the performance.
What are you looking for from potential cast members in the judging process?

Fame is very much an ensemble show, which means everybody has a part to play. With girls, you’re usually spoilt with five or six who might be able to play a given part, and then it comes down to intensive auditioning. We push them hard to find out the extremes of their ability. But, as a casting director, you hope to find someone who just sparkles.
Are you expecting performers from your past productions in Dubai to reapply this time around?

Yes, those are the indications. But people come and go in Dubai, some of our old performers have gone onto drama school in London or moved elsewhere, but we do have a community that I think will be back. We’re hoping this will attract a lot of new people as well.
Why do you think Fame is such an enduring success?

It’s a bit of a classic really, and it appeals to everyone who’s creative in some way and has fantasised about becoming famous. It’s all about making the best of your talents, and it’s such a great vehicle for performers. Plus it reflects what we’re going to do with the show – people are going to work really hard in rehearsals and be exhausted at the end of the day, but they know that it’s going towards something important. A life in theatre or music or art is a very worthy thing in this world, and it can’t be underestimated.
What’s your style as a director?

I’d be nothing without a great team around me. You need a great choreographer and musical director. But I’d say I’m a bit of a taskmaster. I don’t hang about – my style is to always want more, and only through that can everyone be their very best. If I’m going to put all the effort in, I expect that from my cast. That’s not to say I’m unfair or that I bark at everybody, but I hope my enthusiasm comes out through the actors. 
The audience deserves it.
How to apply

Auditions are open to anyone aged 11 and up. Those selected to join the cast will attend a professional summer workshop – aka ‘Fame School’ – which will begin on July 1 (tuition fees, terms and conditions apply – see www.fameonstage.co.uk). As well as rehearsing for the show, cast members can take extra workshops in acting, singing and dancing.
Audition details

All roles for the show will be auditioned on Friday, May 14 and Saturday, May 15, at the Hayya! Health Club, Meadows 2. Register your details to guarantee your audition place now at www.fameonstage.co.uk.

Auditions on Friday will begin with females aged 14 to 26 (arrive at 9am), followed by males aged 11 to 26 (arrive at 2pm) then finally adults aged 27-plus (arrive 4.30pm). Auditions on Saturday will focus on girls aged 11 to 13 (arrive at 9am).


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