Fame - The Musical hits Papermill Theatre stage
With a dream in one hand and determination in the other, a mish mash of kids, each with their own story, comes to The High School for the Performing Arts in New York City to pursue their goals of making it big in T3 Productions upcoming show, Fame-The Musical.
Contrary to popular belief, director Jamie Wagg said Fame was a movie first before it was developed into a musical, and finally made into the popular 1980s television series many of us remember.
Set in 1980, the show spans four years of high school where a group of ambitious teens perfect their acting, singing and dancing skills while learning the usual academic subjects. Wagg said each are challenged to balance the pressures of their demanding education while going through everyday teenage life.
"It's about making it through the formative years of high school ... there are the friendships, the love, the disappointments, just the regular things we go though growing up," Wagg said. "But they also have to hold up their grades or they don't get to perform so they're under a lot of pressure."
Wagg said the teachers in this show are just as pivotal as the students and there are four, one to teach each artistic discipline as well as the English teacher, Miss Sherman.
Erin Tancock is playing this teacher and has the challenging task of trying to impart on the students the importance of excelling at academics, not just in acting, singing and dancing.
"They are all trying to live their dream but I'm trying to make them see they all have to also get their education to really succeed," she said.
Tancock said her character was once a very encouraging teacher, but being the only non-artistic teacher in the school, her frustration at the lack of focus on academics wears on her.
"She sees potential in one of her students and I see someone struggling to get by on their talents alone, but I know they want to be education smart and I don't want to give up on him and neither does she, so it's a battle."
While this story highlights the difficult road to fame, it also focuses on the very real issues of being in high school and the struggles many youth face.
For example, Tyrone has awesome talent but struggles with dyslexia, Mabel is overweight by dancer standards and Carmen, the token pretty girl with an attitude, has a drug problem.
Chelsea Leaman is playing Carmen, who she says has plans to one day move to Los Angeles to become famous. Carmen is talented, but her over confident attitude threatens to be the road block to her succeeding, not to mention her substance abuse problem.
"She does drugs to fit in at first and then it turns into more being about coping with life situations and ... to feel invincible on stage," Leaman said.
Besides her drug problem, Carmen also has an attitude problem and her teachers are concerned that it will affect her chances of making it. But that doesn't stop Carmen from believing in herself, as shown in her solo, There She Goes, about what it will be like when she's famous and living in Los Angeles.
Wagg said there are 15 musical numbers in this show and several different types of music from rock to gospel to jazz and ballads including the popular, signature song, Fame.
With a live band and fun 1980s dancewear include legwarmers, tights and headbands, which brings a fun visual element to the show, Fame promises to provide a balance between something important to convey, something interesting to watch and something to feel.
Fame- The Musical runs June 24 to 26 at 8 p.m.; June 27 at 7 p.m. Matinees are June 26 and 27 at 2 p.m. Performances take place at Papermill Theatre, Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Rd. Tickets are $25 and are for sale at www.ticketweb.ca
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