By Marcus Kalipolites
While "Fame" does not have any "whistle—on-your-way-home" songs, the current musical produced by the Forestburgh Playhouse sparkles with the beautiful choreography of dancers who display polished technique, marvelous coordination, bountiful energy and classical grace.
But great dancing aside, the show also does contain several songs that carry the story — as in "Pray, Pray, Pray," the opening number wherein students gather and hope for admission to Manhattan's High School for the Performing Arts.
Following acceptance to school and forewarned by homeroom teacher Miss Sherman about the challenge, the youngsters acknowledge the tasks before them in "Hard Work," a rollicking song-dance routine of "I'll show the world I can make it."
They all want to see their names in lights, and among the diverse group of students is classical actor Nick Piazza (Jake Boyd), whose upbeat singing captures the optimistic spirit of "I Want to Make Magic."
Serena (Alyssa Wall), hoping for a romance with Nick, bemoans his disinterest with a sensitive and warm ballad of "Let's Play a Love Scene."
The extroverted and funny Joe Vegas (Alex Pimentel), urged by drama teacher Mr. Myers (Steve Davis) to be emotionally honest in his work, reveals his obsession with sex in "Can't Keep It Cool."
Following the songwriting of serious violin player Schlomo (Jake Weinstein) and cocky dancer Carmen (Diany Rodriguez), the company turns in a spirited and dazzling delivery of "Bring On Tomorrow."
With low grades and the performing future of Tyrone (Kristopher Ward) being threatened by Miss Sherman (Lumiri Tubo), the student's dance teacher (Jessica Wagner) in strong and proud voice fiercely supports her student in "The Teachers' Argument." In time, Tubo's character turns warmly supportive for all her students in an emotional and dramatic "These Are My Children."
Miss Bell's faith in Tyrone as a dancer finds evidence in two different venues, the energetic and full-blown company routine "Dancin' on the Sidewalk" and the lyrical "Pas de Deux," which he shares with Iris (Madison Turner).
While most students focus on developing their life's work, overweight dancer Mabel (Phoenix Toliver) anguishes over failed diets and her never-ending quest for food as girlfriends try to help her by clasping hands in "Mabel's Prayer."
An especially dramatic highlight of the show finds Rodriguez's character of Carmen returning from Hollywood and emotionally unloading her sad experiences "In L.A." She also promises to get off drugs.
Directed and choreographed by Dann Dunn, this splendid production with the musical support of Chris DiStefano's five-piece orchestra, colorful costume design by David Withrow and efficient set design by Darcy Engel could not have been better.
Don't miss it.
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