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Remember my name, Fame!
A fresh take on a 1980s musical classic will open in Bangkok tomorrow

8/09/2011

Rising to fame these days can happen in a matter of minutes - be it by attending a singing contest or putting your own act up on YouTube and being instantly discovered.

But long before such methods were available to fame-seekers, schools of performing arts played an important role in professionally training and grooming new talent.

The story of wannabe stars, intertwined with hardship and friendship behind the limelight, inspired the 1980 musical film, Fame. The film, conceived and developed by producer David De Silva, was about young performers at New York City's High School of Performing Arts. The critically and commercially acclaimed film spawned a six-season television series, a reality TV show, and a musical on Broadway and London's West End.

Fast forward to Bangkok in 2011, and Dreambox is carrying on the journey to stardom in response to the current vogue of talent shows that are attracting the attention of Thai teens who will do anything for fame.

The new production of Fame the musical has recruited many former dreamcatchers from reality TV shows, including five contestants from True Academy Fantasia (AF) and three participants from the KPN singing contest.

"We went through series of dancing, acting and singing workshops," said singer Nat Sakdathorn, who received the popular male artist award from Channel V Thailand last Sunday.

"Each character has his or her unique story to tell, and it will more or less match the original version."

Among a few newcomers in Fame are Ratha Kokilanon (Tabby AF6) and Nat Thewpai-ngam (Natthew AF5). Both share the pursuit of success in the entertainment business with their characters in the musical.

"I had heard about Fame before, but I was not familiar with the songs. So I've got to do a lot of homework, especially jazz dance which is something new to me," said Ratha, who will play sexy, egoistic dancer Carmen Diaz in her stage debut.

For Nat, being in Fame is a matter of dream-come-true success. "I was so keen on performing in this production after I read the script. I have to act, sing, dance and play music. Like a half-full glass, I am ready to learn more."

The production also features experienced A-list performers from the Thai stage, including Maneenuch Smerasut as the strict English teacher, Teeranai Na Nongkai as the passionate dance teacher, Panudej Wattanasuchart as the drama teacher, and Keneth Wan as the classical music teacher.

"Fame has the contemporary sentiment of Thai society nowadays when we have many talent competitions contests. This is reflected in this musical," said Maneenuch, who first joined the Dreambox company for Mae Nak The Musical.

Naturally gifted singer-actress Teeranai is making her return to the stage after giving birth to her second child.

"It is like dusting off my theatrical skills," she said. "While the previous productions were through 'sung speech', this one has a script for acting. So, I have to change my method of understanding and expressing the character."

Like Theeranai, actor Panudej was a former trainer for AF contestants.

"While many look at the entertainment business only with eyes for the glamour and the lucre, the story also depicts life behind the glittering shield," he said.

"The theatre stage is my life. I started off my career on stage, and even today I still apply theatrical crafts in my acting for my TV series. This comeback is to help me reprogramme my performing skills."

The officially licensed Thai version of Fame was adapted by scriptwriter-librettist Daraka Wongsiri, under the directorial guidance of Suwandee Jakkrawiravudh, with music by Suthee Sangserichon and choreography by Poj Krongsiriwat.

Fame the musical promises messages about friendship through thick and thin amid the fierce competition that all dream hunters must pursue. It's hoped that the charm of the original Fame will shine through in this Thai production.

Fame the Musical will be staged at M-Theatre on New Petchaburi Road, from tomorrow until Sept 25. Showtime on Fridays and Saturdays is 7:30pm and on Sundays at 2pm. Tickets at 800-2,000 baht are available online at www.bananabooking.com or call 080-2600771-6. For more information, call Dreambox at 02-7153547-9.


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