11th January 2005
Review by Jake Brunger
With its sharp choreography, funny new script and energetic young cast, Fame is as strong as ever.
Fame is the ultimate feel good musical, but sadly the last night's performance opened on a rather sombre not. For instead of explosive choreography greeting the audience, an address from the producer Adam Spiegel announced that the cast member Ross Baker was missing following the Asian tsunami, and is thought to have perished in the disaster.
Baker played the role of Jewish Musician Schlomo and was himself a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. Such devastating news was greeted by an audible gasp from the audience, all of whom are surely thinking of the cast and family in thoughts and prayers.
But whatever their troubles inside, the show and its cast went on as usual, and now on its umpteenth UK tour, this most recent staging by Karen Bruce sees some script changes and new, often inventive staging.
Set in and around the High School of Performing Arts in New York, the show tells the story of young hopefuls desperate to make it as stars. From Tyrone -who dances his way through life - to Iris, a bright young ballet star - they learn the highs and lows on their whirlwind journey to the top.
The show has often been criticised for not being faithful to the film. Although such classics as 'Out Here On My Own' are absent, the new songs are equally exciting and diverse - from the haunting 'In LA' to the dynamic 'Dancin' On The Sidewalk'. Characters like Leroy and Doris are gone, but exist in newer characters.
In such a character-driven show, the standouts are easy to spot. James Haggie as Joe, with raging teenage hormones, is likable, funny and has a beautiful singing and speaking voice. Craig Stein is one of the most convincing Tyrones I've seen yet - most play it for sex appeal but Stein focuses on the character's sensitive side; the result is far more believable.
The fact that audiences still flock to see this show are a testament to its success. With its sharp choreography, funny new script and energetic young cast, Fame is as strong as ever.
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