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Home > Reviews > High School Journalists Review Fame on 4nd Street
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FAME Comes Home
By: Sonia Sethi

Whether you've seen the Oscar-winning movie, or the TV show, or you just have a friend who's constantly singing it, you've heard the fame -ous lyrics, "I'm gonna live forever". Inspired by the hit movie, FAME on 42nd Street is the stage musical that inspires all. After hitting major success in London, FAME has finally come home to New York.

FAME is the classic story of students with a passion for the performing arts. The story takes place in New York from 1980-1984 following the last class to graduate from the legendary New York City High School of Performing Arts (West 46th Street) before the school merged with the High School of Music and Art to become known as LaGuardia High School.

The class of '84 pushes their talents to the limits while enduring their sometimes-painful teenage years. The play begins with adolescent, raw talented hopefuls praying for admission into the school and finishes with mature artists who have honed their skills. Although the story has many subplots the main characters include Nick Piazza, a "serious" actor who doesn't have time to appreciate fellow thespian Serena Katz's love for him. Responsible for most of the laugh riots is Jose (Joe) Vegas, a boy with a purpose- to woo the spunky, talented Carmen Diaz. Equally important is Tyrone Jackson, a dancer with heart and talent but jaded by poverty. Then there's Schlomo Metzenbaum. His name says it all.

The actors and actresses carry out the roles with conviction and soul doing justice to the inviting characters. Whether song or dance, the performances are engaging and will keep you high-spirited the whole way. It inspires the youthful members of the audience to reach for more and rejuvenates the older crowd. Catchy tunes add to the appeal of the play. The lyrics emphasize the plot and the music keeps you energized.

If you're out to make comparisons to the movie, don't. The characters names are different and so are the songs except for the title song. The live performances make the story a real treat. Prepare for a night full of laughs, tears and inspiration. More importantly prepare to sing the theme song all the way home.

By Ashley Jacob

Fame on 42nd Street is an inspiring stage musical that has infatuated audiences across the nation with its dazzling performances and talented actors and actresses. Originating as a hit movie and later becoming a flourishing TV series, Fame has opened its doors to live audiences at New York City. Its strong performances are supported by young, aspiring actors and actresses that may have the talent to become prominent in the Broadway industry.

Set at New York City's High School for Performing Arts in the mid 1980's, the roles played are of those wishing to make it in the entertainment business. The concept that keeps the audience in awe is not so much the cliché of dreaming teenagers, but the magnificent song-and-dance performances that truly have emotional impact. The most memorable scene is the dramatization by the school Principal Miss Esther Sherman (played by Cheryl Freeman), who gives a moving performance while singing "These are my Children".

The choreography fits these characters' personalities and made the production more relatable to the teenage audience, much to the benefit of both the cast and the audience. As the cast came forward on the stage numerous times throughout the piece, a personal attitude was given off, and the technique allowed for more interactions. The song performances were purely entertaining, allowing for more characterization to develop and for the audience to discover the soul behind the production. The foundation of the entire piece is in the hands of the singers, and they succeeded greatly as a result of their natural talent. No show would be successfully complete without the talented vocalists.

The content of the scenes is reality: relationships form, hearts are broken, and life-altering situations arise. As a result of the emotions needed to perform the scenes, an automatic response is needed from the audience. No audience will be able to resist the struggles and hardships encountered by the performers, and the director (Drew Scott Harris) organized the scenes to accentuate the story's strengths.

Because these performers have blooming young characters, it is without a doubt that there is room for improvement in their acting skills. All of the singers have beautiful, sonorous voices, and all of the dancers have proved themselves worthy of the stage, yet some scenes were undoubtedly forced. Apart from this seemingly miniscule detail, because truly the musical numbers can outlive any criticism, these young stars will cast a spell over any audience. Deserving praise should go out to Nicole Leach (playing Carmen Diaz), Cheryl Freeman, and Shakiem Evans (playing Tyrone Jackson). These select actors made the show even more moving and entertaining than it already was.

'Fame on 42nd Street' perfect show for sex-absorbed teens with dreams
By Heather Collura

Fame on 42nd Street may be based on the motion picture Fame , but it takes the whirlwind story a few steps further.

Fame is about the 1984 class of New York City's High School of Performing Arts, the last class to graduate from this landmark school. Although in the play the names of the characters are different from those in the motion picture, viewers can easily figure out who is supposed to be who; all of the music is different except for the trademark song "Fame".

The play opens with each of the characters opening letters of acceptance to the famed school. The motion picture covers the entire audition process, which only serves to further character development, but in the play it was best that this was skipped. The audience has plenty of opportunity to develop a sense of what each character is like.

While the play follows the basic story line of the movie and alludes to some of the scenes in the movie that could never be recreated on stage (the famous scene where all the kids are dancing on cars in the streets), it adds to its own flavor. The play is witty at times and hysterically funny at others. One of my favorite scenes is when Mabel Washington, an oversized dancer, sings "Mabel's Prayer", in which she asks God to help her end her "see food" diet - every time she "sees food" she eats it. She is afraid of becoming the fattest dancer that ever lived.

This play has a little bit of everything: It has emotion, violence, sexual innuendo, and love. Almost every main character is entangled in a love battle at some point in the play and each one has at least one kissing scene. That's right -- multiple kissing scenes. The sexual innuendo begins when Jose "Joe" Vegas sings "Can't Keep It Down". This song is hysterical. Vegas touches on the feelings teens have when their hormones race, the feelings of rejection, and the hardships of trying to hide these 'feelings'.

My favorite couple or couple-in-the-making is Nick, played by Christopher J. Hanke, and Serena, played by Sara Schmidt. They sing a beautiful song together called, "Let's Play A Love Scene". Serena tells Nick how she feels about him, only to be shot down. Nick wants to focus more on his acting. Serena asks him, "What's wrong with acting like adolescents?" Nick is believed to be gay, so when he tells her he's not, that he just thinks his studies are more important, she wittily replies, "Just my luck. I fell for a guy with no sex drive." Serena asks "Why do I pour out all of my emotions on a creep like him? I should use them for me." This discovery helps Serena blossom into a wonderful actress, and Nick and Serena's "non-relationship relationship" plays out.

Other couples include Schlomo Metzenbaum, played by Dennis Moench, and Carmen Diaz, played by Nicole Leach. Schlomo is the son of a famous violinist and Carmen has aspirations of making it in Hollywood. Carmen teams up with Schlomo to write the song "Bring On Tomorrow" for the band that Schlomo, Grace "Lambchops" Lamb (Jenna Coker), and Goodman "Goody" King (Michael Kary) form. This story line has an unexpected and gut-wrenching twist.

Tyrone Jackson, played by Shakiem Evans, is the star male dancer. Jackson, who has an amazing physique, is part of an emotional scene with the English teacher Miss Sherman. They go back and forth arguing about Tyrone's illiteracy until finally he calls her a bitch and she slaps him across the face. Then they sit down together and she apologizes for hitting him and offers to work with him outside the classroom to teach him how to read. He cries because he is ashamed. This scene began with good stage-fighting and ended by bringing tears to my eyes (but then again I cried during Air Bud too). Jackson also has a love interest, Iris Kelly. These two have their own problems. Iris pretends to be rich because she is afraid no one will like her and the two fight over their differences in not understanding each other. Typical relationship stuff.

Miss Sherman sings a solo called "These Are My Children", referring to her students. Cheryl Freeman, the actress who plays Sherman, has a soulful voice that reminds me of a Tina Turner. Perhaps it's her voice, or maybe it's her acting ability, but this song is quite moving, especially, I would imagine, for teachers.

My only gripe with this play is that sometimes it removes itself from the time period of 1980-1984. The characters usually are dressed appropriately for the time period with bleached jeans, bright colors, and big hair, but some of the phrases they come out with leave me wondering. I don't think they have said "y'all" or "What have you been smoking?" in the 1980's.

Overall, this play is funny while providing a realistic portrayal of the hardships of trying to make it as a star, whether as a dancer, actor, singer, or musician. If you're a teenager with aspirations of becoming anything and you like subtle humor about sex and love, go see Fame on 42nd Street and "live forever".

For tickets call Telecharge at 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7780. Performances are held at the Little Shubert Theatre on West 42nd Street on Tuesdays at 7, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 and Sundays at 3. For more information about the show browse the website at www.FameOn42.com .

Fame Hits Broadway
By Kelly Lauturner '05
Features Editor

You've seen the movie; you've seen the television show. Now Fame is on Broadway in a stage production at the Little Shubert Theater. The show, which has been performed worldwide, is making its New York debut. The story deals with the hardships of students at the High School of Performing Arts during the 1980's before the school moved to Lincoln Center, where it is now located. Vignettes deal with the problems faced by students seeking to get famous in the world of show business, but many of the issues are universal to the experience of being in high school.

The show's songs deal with identity, fitting in, breaking out, drugs, and hard work. The best known song of the play is the title song, "Fame" , and provides the rousing finale complete with a yellow taxicab on stage. Much of the show's life comes from the energy of the troupe of performers who take turns telling their stories. They represent every student type from the geek to the "gansta". They dream of being famous dancers, actors and musicians. Most of the actors are themselves unknowns, but they are a talented group. One of the actresses learned to play the drums just to get her part in the show. If you are looking for a fun night in the city, get tickets for Fame . This dynamic, upbeat show will lift your spirits and make you believe in your own dreams. The show performs every night but Sunday and there are Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees. And don't worry about buying cheap tickets. The renovated Little Shubert is a beautiful theater where even the upper level seats are comfortable and provide a great view of the show.

Fame on 42nd Street
By Mason Jager '04 and Ross Girard '05

A few blocks away from the heart of New York City, Times Square, is the Little Schubert Theatre which now hosts Fame on 42nd Street . Originally a screen play which was adapted into a movie and later a television show, Fame has now made its way to an Off-Broadway performance.

The play, which is set in New York City from 1980-1984, revolves around the lives of students attending New York City's former High School for the Performing Arts. Progressing from their freshman year, the story leads you through their high school experiences, and on the road to fame. The play follows the students through their difficulties in the worlds of dance, music, and acting. After their four years, some succeed and some do not, painting an accurate picture of the real world.

The play portrays a realistic view of life as a teenager in high school. It incorporates the conflicts of love, hard work, determination, and overcoming learning disabilities. The show revives the '80s spirit and creates an electric atmosphere. The cast is multi-talented, having terrific abilities in dance, song and acting. Shakiem Evans, who plays Schlomo Metzenbaum, played both the piano and violin with ease and precision whilst carrying on a major acting and singing role.

All in all, the performance was excellent and very enjoyable. Even people who aren't theatergoers would enjoy Fame .

For more information, visit: www.fameon42.com
A special thanks to the Little Schubert Theater and Dodger Stage Holding for providing this opportunity.

 

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