By Ruth Meech
22nd February 2008
EVERY generation has its own musical. In the late 1970s there was Grease, while the late 1980s brought us Hairspray.
Today's youngsters have been swept away by the High School Musical phenomenon - a 21st century retelling of Romeo and Juliet that has spawned a series of films and merchandising opportunities.
In the early 1980s however, the inspiration to get up and sing and dance was provided by Fame, an adrenaline-fuelled, leotard and legwarmers-clad tale of teenage angst and energy set in New York's High School for Performing Arts.
The film and accompanying television series were the brainchild of David de Silva and now, more than two decades later, he has returned with a follow-up project, Fame Forever.
The show follows the fortunes of some of the original Fame characters and their children, who are also students at the School for Performing Arts.
In keeping with his ethos of encouraging and developing community theatre, David - or Father Fame' as he is known - has eschewed the bright lights of the West End and Broadway and offered the show to amateur dramatic groups around the UK.
Weymouth Operatic Society is one of just three companies nationwide who are staging the show - the other two being in Glasgow and Eastbourne.
David said: "I think we are very lucky to have Weymouth Operatic Society involved. I used the internet to research about the best community theatre groups in the UK and they came up. They are a top group and members also came to see other productions of Fame Forever in Eastbourne.
"I spoke to Geoff King and I was impressed to see that they are such a good team. They explained that they thought the musical was a terrific opportunity to bring more young people to the company and get them involved in the theatre."
The show is a fantastic celebration of music, dance and love and features an amazingly talented cast, fantastic costumes and, among the music, a revamped version of the famous Fame anthem.
It stars members of the operatic society as well as members of WOW Weymouth Youth Musical Theatre and is directed by Julie Storey.
The idea of taking Fame Forever to smaller theatres around the UK is an ethos very close to David, who has founded the father Fame Foundation, which helps to promote arts and live theatre in education.
He explained: "It's not just about the West End and Broadway, that can come later. My thing is to work at the grass roots level and to encourage local groups who are ready to do it to do it.
"Maths and science are all very important, but you need to expose youngsters to music and community theatre is a hugely successful way of doing that. The quality of life for the kids really goes up when they are exposed to the arts, but in America as in many places, they are the first thing to be cut when funding is tight. But I am happy to know that I am doing things to promote the theatre and arts in education."
Unfortunately, David won't be able to see Weymouth Operatic Society's Fame Forever as he has a prior commitment in America but he is being sent a DVD of the performance.
"It is a positive and uplifting show," said David, "about how the creative spirit can be reborn through different generations, how it can live forever. It is a show that people of all ages can enjoy. Parents will love it, children too. It will send them home singing."
The show runs at Weymouth Pavilion from Wednesday, February 27 to Saturday, March 1. Performances are at 7.30pm and there is a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets cost £14, £11 for Wednesday's show and Saturday's matinee. For full details call the box office on 01305 783225.
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