Home > Current Buzz > Jenkintown H.S. PA tackles Universal Issues in "FAME"
By Jesse Reilly
The cast of Jenkintown High School's production of "Fame."
Jenkintown High School students are bringing their fancy footwork and the bright lights to the borough for their production of the classic musical “Fame.”
“This is very different than anything we've done at the high school before,” Director Alyssa Davidson said. “We've never done a dance-heavy show like this, but this year we've just got the right group of people.”
With 24 eighth to 12th graders carrying the show, the director said the dynamic is different.
“Jenkintown usually has about 40 people in the shows, so this one is pretty small for us,” she said. “But it truly adds uniqueness to the show. We don't have leads or chorus members this year. Every person in the show is important and integral to its success.”
The musical, set in New York City in the 1980s, centers around a group of students who, as the play opens, are auditioning for the city's High School of the Performing Arts.
As the show progresses, it delves into relationship, academic and personal problems that the students face as they make their way through the school — issues that are not unfamiliar to the Jenkintown actors.
“The themes are universal,” Davidson said. “In the play, students are coming to terms with learning disabilities and relationship issues. It's a very contemporary show.”
The New York hopefuls are mirrored in youths everywhere.
“There is so much a kid needs to grasp when they're in high school,” she said. “The play just shows that everyone is striving for something.”
With stars in the characters' eyes, Davidson said much of the show is about not getting caught up in the dream.
“I think the message absolutely rings true in the age of reality television and the 15 minutes of fame,” she said. “It's about the journey, not the destination and I think that's exactly what this play illustrates.”
For 11th grader Melanie Gabage, who is a musician in the play, the relationships hold the piece together.
“I like the show because it really tells a story,” she said. “Each and every character adds something and is important; you learn their story.”
Acting in a play that is much like her own life is also exciting, Gabage said.
“The students deal with real-life, everyday issues,” she said. “The students deal with drug issues and relationships problems.”
Although the production has low, dramatic points throughout, Gabage said the dancing brings out the essence of the production.
“It just really helps to bring out the show's colors,” she said. “It adds to all parts of it.”
Although the audience might not be expecting the dancing from Jenkintown, the actress said they won't be disappointed.
“They will love it,” she said. “It's all really cool. We just have to remember what move to do when.”
Just beginning her high school career, ninth-grader Sarah Kravinsky said the relationships throughout the show will appeal to most of her peers.
“I really like the idea that all the friends stayed together and helped them in the end,” she said. “I think it's a lot of fun that it's set in high school — it's different than ours but kind of the same.”
The ability to find similarities in difference is what attracts the young actor to the stage.
“I like creating something with other people,” she said. “Everyone gets to use their talents and make and be something different.”
Ninth-grader Natalia Siguenza is convinced that an intricate stage design and colorful graffiti walls will definitely pull the audience in.
“Just the way that it is set up will make people feel that they are a part of the show, that they're in it too,” she said. “I haven't seen any sets like this before.”
Although the students are working hard to iron out all the glitches before opening day, their moms and dads are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure set designs and costumes are ready for opening night.
“Everyone is working so hard,” Davidson said, adding colorful legwarmers and Flashdance outfits will highlight the screaming set.
“There's definitely a lot of '80s in it,” she said, adding that the attire isn't the only part of the show that will bring a smile to faces — the choreography will as well, Siguenza said.
“It's really cool because so many people are going to be surprised,” she said. “I hope that everyone leaves feeling excited about what they just saw.”
If You Go …
“Fame” will take the stage at Jenkintown High School, 325 Highland Ave., Jenkintown, PA 19046,
Thursday, Nov. 12, - Sunday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $5, students with ID; $7, seniors; & $10, regular admission.
Info: 215-885-1801 or www.jenkintown.org