'FAME', at The Oxford Apollo, from December 16 to January 4.
The festive season's production at the Oxford Apollo was the national touring production of the smash-hit show 'Fame' and this was definitely an exuberating, and joyous evening's entertainment.
The cast burst onto the stage full of high energy and brimful of talent. The story follows the aspirations of a group of students who have been accepted for the four years' journey of 'hard work' to graduate from the prestigious New York's High School of Performing Arts. They come from all walks of life, but share the same burning ambition to make it in the 'hardest profession in the world'.
First we meet Jose Vegas (Ben Heathcote) the Spanish sex-crazed clown desperate to succeed, then we have Nick Piazza (Paul Spicer) the soap opera actor, who is confused about his sexuality but is desperate to learn the craft of acting as revealed in an excellent rendition of the song 'I want to make magic'.
Yasmin Kadi was a stunning Carmen Diaz, the girl who wants be famous no matter what, and is persuaded by a dubious agent to leave the school with disastrous results.
We are told by dance teacher Miss Bell (Anna Stole) that "dance is the core of life" and in this production choreographer and director Karen Bruce makes it the very soul of the show, electrical, heart-thumping magic, a joy to watch performed by a dedicated ensemble.
On the evening I saw the show, Lewis Davies was playing the role of the Tyrone, the illiterate streetwise rapper who overcomes all his adversities, learns to read and manages to stay in the academy.
Julie Atherton was splendid as the quirky Serena Katz, a beautiful stage presence and a voice to match and David Randall (Schlomo) was totally convincing as the multi-talented musician. I adored Leigh-Anne Stone as the overweight dancer Mabel Washington, desperate to make it — she sparkled!
Melanie La Barrie gave a showstopper performance in her role as Miss Sherman proving that despite the external hard appearance she really did care. She thoroughly deserved her enthusiastic ovation.
Let's hope that 'Fame' does 'live for ever'. In the hands of this cast it should!
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