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June 20, 2007
Dramatic graduate sees 'Fame' in future
By Michelle Wiener
Amanda Weldin just finished four years of performing with the Andover High Drama Guild and she is already teaching the best of the best to perform. Or at least, her character is.
From June 28 to 30, Weldin will be performing in WESJAM Production's "Fame — The Musical" as Greta Bell, dance instructor at the play's High School for the Performing Arts.
Weldin, who graduated from Andover High this year, has been rehearsing with the rest of the cast since the middle of May.
The show will be the second for WESJAM Productions, a new company led by choreographer Wendy E. Smith and director John A. Middleton-Cox.
Weldin, a Shawsheen Road resident, says the rehearsal process has been interesting, although a bit of a challenge. The cast has been rehearsing in a church basement on the Merrimack College campus, and they will have only a week to rehearse on the stage at the Rogers Center for the Arts.
"It's been tough because only two people are really in charge | they're kind of doing everything," explains Weldin. "It's kind of neat, though. It's really cool that it's coming out so well."
"Fame" tells the story of a class of highly talented teenagers' four years at New York City's High School for the Performing Arts on 46th St. Originally a television show and then movie, "Fame | The Musical" confronts issues faced by high school students of the 1980s and by high school students today.
Weldin's character is part of a plotline that involves a character named Tyler, an illiterate student who is told by the school's English teacher that unless he learns to read, he will not be able to graduate. As the school's dance teacher, Weldin's character fights to have the student perform.
The play's cast ranges from graduating eighth-graders to graduating high school seniors. A lot of the kids, says Weldin, come from Burlington, where Middleton-Cox works as a high school teacher. Two of her cast mates, she says, will be going to the Boston Conservatory with her next year.
"It's been nice getting to know them, especially since I'll know someone when I get (to college)," she said.
Besides "Fame," Weldin has performed in Andover High's productions of "Tommy," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Beauty and the Beast," and, most recently, "Into the Woods." She was also involved in North Shore Music Theatre's "Footloose" last summer, and is a past Merrimack Junior Theater performer. Next year, she will attend Boston Conservatory to major in musical theater.
"There's nothing like the rush of being on stage and performing and having everyone clap for you | that's really cool," Weldin says of her passion for musical theater. "When you're acting and singing, you can express certain things that you can't necessarily express in real life but you can express them through a character. But it's still you on stage | you're using your emotions and experiences to make the character feel a certain way."
WESJAM Productions performances of "Fame | The Musical" will be June 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. and June 30 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All performances will be in the Rogers Center for the Arts on the Merrimack College campus. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at 978-683-7777 or at the door.