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Despite the success of Fame on both the big and small screens, David De Silva's heart was on the stage. Instead of doing something else after Fame, David embarked on a completely new version of the project (with composer Steve Margoshes and lyricist Jacques Levy) that would take him eight years to bring to completion.
"When I conceived and produced the motion picture Fame, I always imagined that it would be the ultimate reality-based stage musical. There's a logical reason for the kids to be performing, because it's part of their daily lives. They don't just burst into song out of the blue," says De Silva. "My first goal was to create a show that would be relevant and timeless as a musical. Fame - the Musical is a blueprint for the ultimate ensemble production. It has a chorus of anywhere from 8 to 80, and it allows for flexibility in staging, based on the talent available. It makes stars; it doesn't need stars to make it happen."
Unlike A Chorus Line and West Side Story, two of the shows that most inspired De Silva's creation, "the show allows every choreographer to put their own stamp on the production. The dancing is a mixture of Broadway, modern, street, and classical. The mixture of styles is as diverse as the characters, who come from different parts of New York City.
"My second goal was to create the ideal musical for high schools around the world, one that would give acting students, musicians and dancers a chance to have their 15 minutes of fame before they even graduate. Most shows today are really period pieces. No other musical deals with contemporary dance and music in a way that students can relate to directly. The show also allows a school's music department into the production, because it uses musicians on the stage, as well as in the orchestra pit."
During the years when De Silva's concept was taking shape, Performing Arts underwent its own major transformation. In 1984, the school merged with the High School of Music and Art to create what is now known as the Fiorello La Guardia School of the Arts. The new school, much larger and inevitably somewhat less personal than its predecessor, was relocated to a modern facility adjacent to Lincoln Center.De Silva chose to use the final four years at the old landmark building as the time frame for his new musical, following the progress of the last class to graduate. He spent a great deal of time with teachers and student, researching every possible detail.
Fame - the Musical got its first tryout in regional theater at the Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida, in 1988. In 1989, it was performed at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where it broke box office records. From there, however, the show went into hiatus. For most shows, that would have been the end of the line. But we had the Fame name and the reputation to go along with it. MTI (Music Theater International) in New York, the publisher of plays like The Music Man, Annie, West Side Story and all of the Stephen Sondheim productions, chose to break with tradition and publish the show even though it had not gone to Broadway: they released the musical world-wide. The big breakthrough came in January of 1993 when the show had its European premiere in Stockholm. De Silva saw the show for the first time in the spring of 1993."I saw it four times and I cried at every performance. I didn't understand a word of it because it's in Swedish, but I didn't have to. It's an absolutely brilliant production, and dance and music are a universal form of communication." The admiration was mutual. The Swedes promptly dubbed De Silva "Father Fame."
For De Silva, the Stockholm production was the break he had been waiting for. "It's a multi-million dollar production. The endeavor brought to our attention the talents of choreographer/director Runar Borge. Borge studied ballet in Oslo, London and Stockholm. He was employed by the Norsk theater and has directed and choreographed more than 60 shows. Runar is brilliant." To David's delight, Borge had agreed to stage numerous productions of the show in Germany, Holland, Australia and the United States.
David had foreseen that the show would mark a reversal of direction in American musical theater. "I've been fortunate enough to have the title Fame to help propel the musical. You don't have to explain it. I really think this is the beginning of a trend for passionate contemporary smaller musicals to be done in regional theaters without the hit-or-miss, blockbuster mentality of Broadway. Musical theater is not about the scenery or the special effects. It's about lifting the spirit of man and musical theater should be about lifting it even higher.
> Original Miami/Philadelphia Production
> FAME in London
> Fame The Musical on Wikipedia
> Fame The Musical on Answers.com
The movie "Fame" takes a look at the life of students attending Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts. Told in five episodes -- auditions and each academic year --
the film focuses on a seven main student characters: Coco (played by Irene Cara) a gifted singer; Montgomery (played by Paul McCrane) a confused gay actor; Leroy (played by Gene Anthony Ray) an illiterate but talented dancer; Bruno (played by Lee Curreri) a synthesizer player; Ralph (played by Barry Miller) an actor ashamed of his Puerto Rican heritage; Doris (played by Maureen Teefy) a shy insecure singer; Hilary (played by Antonia Franceschi) a talented but spoiled prima donna dancer; Lisa (played by Laura Dean) a frustrated dancing student. The two major adult roles were performed by comedienne/New York actress and playwright Anne Meara (as the tough English teacher Mrs. Sherman) and Broadway composer Albert Hague (as the no-nonsense Mr. Shorofsky).
The 1980 MGM/United Artist film was directed by Alan Parker. Produced by David De Silva and Alan Parker. Written by Christopher Gore with an Academy Award winning music score by Michael Gore. Choreography by Louis Falco.
Cast of Characters
|Gene Anthony Ray
Running time of movie: 134 minutes.
The TV Series
Broadcast history: January 7, 1982 to August 4, 1983, aired Thursday nights from 8pm-9pm EST on NBC. In first-run syndication from fall 1983 to fall 1987. New York City's renowned High School for the Performing Arts was the setting for this series about the hopes and aspirations of a group of students planning to have careers in show business. Each week the students would learn to deal with competition and rejection, as well as the problems of growing up. "Fame" was a hit with the critics. They lauded its talented cast of young performers, the well-choreographed production numbers, and the realistic portrayal of the problems of growing up in contemporary society. Unfortunately it attracted a small audience by network standards, and after a year and a half on NBC it was finally canceled in the spring of 1983. Undaunted, the producers continued production of new episodes and sold them on a syndicated basis to local stations and became a popular hit show, generally airing early evenings on weekends. William Flinn and Gerald I. Isenberg were Executive Producers. Mel Swope, Stan Rogow and Ken Ehrlich were Producers. David De Silva was Consulting Producer. Choreography was by Debbie Allen and Otis Sallid.
For more information, check out the Internet Movie Database listing for "Fame"- The TV Series:
Cast of Characters
||Coco Hernandez (1982-83)
||Bruno Martelli (1982-83)
||Doris Schwartz (1982-85)
|Gene Anthony Ray
|P R Paul
|Carol Mayo Jenkins
||Elizabeth Sherwood (1982-86)
||Mr. Benjamin Shorofsky
||Julie Miller (1982-83)
||Mr. Crandall (1982)
||Mrs. Charlotte Miller (1982-83)
||Holly Laird (1983-86)
||Christopher Donlon (1983-87)
||Quinton Morloch (1983-85)
||Cleo Hewitt (1984-85)
||Jesse Valesquez (1984-87)
||Nicole Chapman (1984-87)
||Reggie Higgins (1986-87)
||Kate Riley (1986)
||Ian Ware (1986-87)
||Jillian Beckett (1986-87)
||Mr. Paul Seeger (1986-87)
||Miltie Horowitz (1986-87)
||Rhonda, a student
||Gertrude Berge, school secretary
||Dusty Tyler (1985-1987)
The Fame School
Over 15,000 will knock but few will enter. Applicants of the La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts come from all over, from each of the five New York City boroughs, from every walk of life in an ethnic and cultural mix that represents the city's diversity. In 1997, 800 new students were admitted but some years that number is as low as 650.
The audition or portfolio is essential. Those who get accepted are accepted for one main reason: they have talent. Sure, admission is based on the audition followed by an academic screening test - but talent opens the door. For, while the pace is grueling, the teachers demanding, and the competition never ending, at least the tuition is free.
As part of the school system of New York City, the Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, La Guardia High School, as its known to the natives - provides 2400 students with lessons in drama, dance, voice and instrumental music.
La Guardia is the Fame school, where teenagers pay their dues through a rigorous schedule, combining professional level conservatory style arts training with college preparatory academics in a 50/50 mix.
La Guardia is the first government funded school for the arts in the United States and is a model for schools in the United Kingdom such as the Brit School in Croydon and the Liverpool School For the Performing Arts founded by Paul McCartney.
It all started in 1936 when Mayor La Guardia founded the High School of Music and Art which later merged with the School of Performing Arts.
In 1984, the school moved into its own nine story building in the Lincoln Center district of Manhattan. The school was an answer to a twenty year promise from the City's school board for a state-of-the-art facility, it houses a 1,100-seat concert hall and a 500-seat theatre.
Fame School Alma Mater
Some of the well-known graduates from the La Guardia school include:
Partial List of Actors, Dancers and Choreographers
||Billy Dee Williams
Fame by Irene Cara Songfacts