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Fame the Musical: Then and now
By Caitlin O'Keeffe
April 14, 2012


Even though drama teacher Richard Weingartner directed Fame the Musical in 1999, this years show will have its own personality.

Despite a 13 year intermission and a new stage, when it comes to creating a production of Fame the Musical at Wayland High School, some things never change. This spring, the Wayland High School Theatre Ensemble (WHSTE) will perform Fame for the second time. Fame was performed at WHS in 1999 under the direction of Richard Weingartner, WHS’s drama teacher.

Although he had worked on this play before, Weingartner still approached it the same way he would approach any other show. His strategy was to direct the production as if he were seeing the show for the first time.

“The great thing about it is that it doesn’t matter if you have directed a play or not,” Weingartner said. “I used to kid myself that there was an advantage to knowing a show, but it’s still the same amount of work that you have to do.”

The students performing in the current production of Fame perceive the show in a similar way as the actors from the ’99 production.

“In both scripts, we tried to identify with the world of the story,” said Weingartner. “We tried to identify the politics of the time and what New York City was like in 1980; culture was different.”

However, the two productions of Fame are far from identical.

“In 1999, I tried to create an environment which was a lot more like that of the High School of Performing Arts. I was looking at the story with a little bit more realism. Now, it’s more stylized; I’m not going for it to be realistic or naturalistic,” said Weingartner.

Rachel Barker, a teacher at Wayland Middle School, is a choreographer for the current Fame production. Barker provides a unique perspective as a former WHS student who worked on the show in ‘99.

Barker and fellow choreographer and ’99 cast member Misha Chowdry have added one of the original eight dance numbers into this years’ production.

“It is interesting to see how different everybody chooses to play the characters, and yet I see some similarities. The costumes are very similar [to the costumes of the '99 production], which I think contributes to the way people play characters,” Barker said. “I’m enjoying seeing the new ways the actors in the 2012 show decide to portray the characters.”

However, some things have changed since Barker was a student.

“We didn’t have a lot of techniques Mr. Weingartner uses now, which he developed after I graduated. However, I see the same stuff too — character bodies, gestures. I see the same homework going into each character,” said Barker.

This year’s production of Fame the Musical will be performed April 25-28.


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