By Amy Kepferle
While it’s true that several META Performing Arts alums have performed on Broadway and other notable stages in the theater and film industry, getting famous is not necessarily the goal where the longtime Skagit County nonprofit is concerned.
But don’t try telling that to the fictional characters META is bringing to life via showings of Fame: The Musical through March 7 at Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre. In the 1980s-era song-and-dance spectacular, students of New York City’s illustrious High School for the Performing Arts vie for the chance to make a name for themselves, but their pathways to show business aren’t easy, and becoming a star isn’t always assured.
Throw in challenges such as racism, drug abuse, sexual exploitation, body image issues and dyslexia, and it becomes clear that each character’s success is a kick-ass triumph over adversity—even if they never get famous.
“META isn’t afraid to shed light on issues others would rather leave in the dark,” producer Susie Pollino says. “Our mission is to educate the next generation of young artists and share those lessons with our own community. Complex issues that present themselves in Fame are still very prevalent in our society today. The play provides an opportunity for our cast and audience to start these difficult conversations.”
Pollino says director Rebecca Launius has reiterated to the cast and crew that hard work is the overall theme of the show. By providing a glimpse into the painstaking labor and dedication behind every successful artist, audiences see for themselves that success doesn’t happen overnight.
Ironically, it’s by watching up-and-coming young performers playing burgeoning actors, dancers and singers that those lessons will be imparted.
“The hardest part of casting Fame was selecting a relatively small cast from the immense talent that turned out for auditions,” Pollino says. “Our cast features talent from three different counties including Whatcom, Skagit, and Island. In the end, I know our team is content in those we chose to feature in this production. Every actor on that stage uses their own life experience and emotional vulnerability to bring their character to life. We’re grateful to be surrounded by a community of diverse, driven talent.”
During a time when arts programs are being cut across the country, Fame pulls double-duty. Watching the show is not only an entertaining way to spend an evening, it’s also a means by which people can glean tangible evidence of the role the creative arts play in people’s futures.
“When you watch our production of Fame, you’re watching the hopes and dreams of every aspiring young artist come to life,” Pollino says.
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