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I Wanna Live Forever

Date: Thursday, November 14 @ 14:00:00 CST
By LISA ARNETT • buzz ARTS WRITER

Carmen wants fame, and she wants it now. Tyrone is an amazing dancer, but he can’t read. And Iris is sure she’s better than everyone else.

Fame follows a class of aspiring dancers, actors and musicians through their four years at the High School for the Performing Arts in New York, affectionately nicknamed “PA” by the students. Because Fame is mostly an ensemble production, the audience gets to look into the minds of many different students instead of focusing on just a few main characters.

Fame’s cast and crew are made entirely of students of all majors. Junior in FAA Robin Giebelhausen has taken a seat in the director’s chair after her time onstage in three IUB productions.

“[Fame] is kind of like if you were to walk into a high school and eavesdrop on all the conversations, you would hear all different facets of people,” Giebelhausen said. “Only this is more pinpointed; they’re all performing arts students.”

The show follows the students as they struggle with their chosen art, their egos and attractions and oppositions to each other.

“These are kids that have devoted their lives [to the arts] at age 14,” said assistant director Christopher Hemphill, sophomore in LAS. “They’re growing up, and they’re pushed so far ahead.”

Besides the usual entertainment of song and dance, the directors feel Fame offers a greater meaning through the characters’ experiences.

“You need to have a balance in life of aspiration and realism,” Giebelhausen said. “It’s having a love for what you’re doing, and at the same time being in touch with what’s going on in the real world.”

Though many movies were based on original musicals, the musical Fame actually followed the 1980 movie.

“A lot of people come into the show expecting the movie,” Giebelhausen said.

But the movie and musical share only the same setting and title song, and differ in characters and plotline.

Diversity drives the production, not only through the characters’ experiences, but in its music. The musical repertoire is of a greater variety than a traditional Rodgers and Hammerstein musical—Fame features ‘80s rock and rap, Latin and classical music, along with what Giebelhausen calls “the monster ballads of the 80s.”

“Sometimes people make fun of musicals because people just break out into song,” Giebelhausen said. She and her supporting staff have been working with the cast to help them understand why their characters have a reason to sing. With this show, they’ve arrived at the conclusion that the characters “dance and sing when they are too emotional to talk anymore,” Giebelhausen said.

Mirroring the diverse music selections is the variety of dance styles in the show, which includes jazz, Broadway style, hip-hop, Latin and ballet, choreographer Meagan Klemchuk said. A senior in education, Klemchuk has taken on the role of choreographer after being on the cast for two IUB productions, choreographing for several community theatre shows and dancing with Legend Dance Company on campus for three years.

“What’s neat is that most of the people in the cast experience each style [of dance],” Klemchuk said. “Several of the numbers are staged so they are ‘imagined’ by one particular character, and the rest of the cast dances to that character's style.”

The show uses what Giebelhausen calls a “uniset,” where the base set never changes. The set is multi-leveled, with the orchestra atop a nine-foot platform with stairways on either side leading to four-foot platforms, said Allissa Albanese, assistant master carpenter for the show and senior in LAS.

Senior in communications Caroline Guth is an IUB veteran, having been in the cast for every musical since her freshmen year. Guth plays Miss Sherman, the school’s English teacher.

Guth’s character forms a special relationship with Tyrone Jackson, a phenomenal dancer from inner-city New York who has a rough past and is illiterate. Tyrone and Miss Sherman butt heads as he sees dancing as the key to his success and places little importance in academics.

“Her main goal throughout the show is to try to teach the kids how hard work and academics are important because a lot of people … don’t make a living in the arts,” Guth said.

“The whole key thing that IUB musicals are is that you form bonds and friendships and you learn through experiences with each other a lot more than just musicals—you learn about yourself and about life,” Guth said. As a senior, Guth said she felt she was involved this year not only to perform, but also to carry on the tradition of the IUB family. “IUB became my home, and I wanted to create that kind of atmosphere for all the newcomers.”

Senior in LAS Ernest Pierce, who plays Tyrone, is one of those newcomers. Despite the struggles his character faces throughout the course of Fame, Pierce gathered a lot from his first IUB show.

“I love acting, and not only have I had a chance to work with great individuals from different backgrounds…but we all work together to put on a great show,” Pierce said.

In a show created for students by students, the cast and crew want their audience to enjoy what they have worked the past three months to create.

“The cast has worked incredibly hard and they are so talented,” Hemphill said. “I definitely want [the audience] to capture the energy and the exuberance of these kids.”

Fame, The Illini Union Board fall musical, will appear at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Foellinger Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased at Illini Union Ticket Central or the Assembly Hall box office and are $13 for the main floor and $11 for the balcony.

This article comes from buzz Online
http://www.readbuzz.com

 

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