'Gonna live forever'
The creator of the popular Fame series is offering some wisdom for the young talent involved in the stage sequel Fame Forever to mark its Canadian premiere this week in London: "Our creative spirit never dies. The soul is perennial."
David De Silva, known as Father Fame to fans around the world, believes the Original Kids Theatre Company, staging the premiere, will be able to tap into this creativity to produce something magical for London.
He's extremely interested in this production as OKTC is also the first youth troupe to present the show.
"It's amazing to me that a youth theatre group is doing it first. It's a great idea. I think they'll do an amazing job with it," De Silva says.
"There's a tremendous emotional impact the audience feels having seen what happens when time goes by in life."
The story of Fame Forever focuses on a class reunion of the original characters of Fame, held 20 years later. Their children are the ones now with the big dreams.
St. Thomas Aquinas Grade 9 student Ben McCauley plays 38-year-old Joe Vegas in Fame Forever.
He says the message of this production is life is continuous, and like De Silva believes, the soul is lasting.
"Life goes in circles and reincarnation is a real thing," McCauley says.
"People that come to see it are really going to enjoy it."
When De Silva first found out Original Kids was producing the show, he called director Sam Shoebottom.
As luck would have it, some members of the cast and crew were heading to New York for a trip during March break. De Silva arranged to meet with them there.
"When we met with David at our hotel in Times Square, what a humbling experience it was indeed," said the show's stage manager, Linda D'Ascanio, who traveled with the group.
"The cast members were in awe of this kind and grateful man and the artistic staff were in tears as they had grown up on Fame and were meeting its creator."
De Silva said he was glad to have some "creative talks" with the artistic staff.
"I really felt very comfortable with the whole creative team."
The teens also had a chance to tour La Guardia School for the Performing Arts, which is the setting for the show and the place that first inspired De Silva, a teacher.
The Fame properties included an MGM motion picture (which received four Oscar nominations and its theme song won as best song), a TV series in the '80s and stage shows produced in cities such as London, Paris, Barcelona and New York.
"I never imagined it was going to be as big and as powerful as it was," says De Silva, who also founded the Father Fame Foundation with a mission to promote theatre arts in education, primarily in public schools.
De Silva is amazed that London is able to offer students an opportunity to perform year-round.
"Not only are there shows all the time, but there's so much participation in them with kids. It really changes their lives."
D'Ascanio believes that OKTC has really been given a gift with a lasting impact in meeting De Silva.
"It is obvious that this experience of meeting the Godfather of Fame has been inspiring. Their dedication to the show has been incredible, as is their appetite for more knowledge of what the original Fame was in the '80s."
OKTC plans to send De Silva a video of their production. "I'm happy about that," he says.
The senior playbill also includes Rent, which runs May 26-31.
IF YOU GO
What: Fame Forever: Reunion and Rebirth, an Original Kids production
When: Tonight till Sunday, 7 p.m., Swwaturday and Sunday, 2 p.m.
Where: Spriet Theatre, Covent Garden Market
Tickets: Call 519-672-8800 or visit grandtheatre.com
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