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Home > Past Buzz > Fame Follows West Side Story in Picayune, MS


FAME, The Musical, coming to Picayune
By WILL SULLIVAN/Item Managing Editor
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 1:23 PM CDT

TUG-OF-WAR -- Amanda Williams, as Miss Sherman, right, battles with Briana Russell, as Ms. Bell, over Schlomo, played by Andrew Bird. Miss Sherman wants Schlomo out of a production because he is failing her English class. Ms. Bell wants him in the production, because she believes he is one of the students with enough talent to make it big in acting. (Photo by Will Sullivan)

FAME, the musical, is coming the Picayune School District auditorium Thursday, Apil 21 through Saturday, April 23, courtesy of some talented students at Picayune Memorial High School with coaching and help of their teachers.

FAME is this year's annual musical production, a series that began last year with The West Side Story.

FAME began life as a movie, then was a popular television series in the 1980s, and is now a poplar musical stage show. It is based on an actual high school in New York City, the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts. At that school, students who must audition to get in, have their artistic talents honed even as they are taking the academic courses all other high school students must pass to graduate.

The play revolves around the students and teachers and the struggle by the students to balance their love for their art with their duty to succeed academically as well, and the tug-of-war between teachers who view them from their different roles as teachers of art and as teachers of academics.

The students are practicing for the production now and their own struggles are evident as the work goes on. As with most talented students, they are all involved in other activities so the play practices have to revolve to some extent around those activities and the always constant struggle to keep up with academics. Some of the actors are in the school's show choir, which left Thursday for New York City and the FAME competition where it scored eighth place, others are members of the Pride of the Tide dance team, which was in competition over the weekend in Denton, Texas, where the team took a first place award in lyrical dance and was second in prop, another of the five areas of dance competition and took first place in academics.

The play, while a work of fiction, appears to fairly well show the struggle talented students everywhere face as they try to balance academics with other aspects of their lives and education. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults. They can be purchased at the door the nights of the performances or by calling the school. The play will begin each night at 7 p.m.

Lead roles in the production are Carmen, played by Jacey Grubbs; Nick, by Josh Mohon; Joe, but Josh Means; Serena, by Ashley Veerkamp; Mabel, by Ashley Roberson; Goody, by Ben Jordan; Tyrone, by Emanuel Jeffereson; Iris, by Saron Mitchell; Lambchops, by Faith Davis; Schlomo, by Andrew Bird; Ms. Bell, by Briana Russell; Miss Sherman, by Amanda Williams; Mr. Meyers, by Joe Burrage; and Mr. Sheinkopf, by Chris Davis.

Tony Seal is the play's director; Melonee Franklin is an assistant director and in charge of public relations and costumes; Donna Porter is props mistriss and an assistant director; Jerry Cumberland is producer and is putting together an orchestra for the production; Tanya is set designer and Winston Herndon is in charge of set construction; Lauren Mizell is musical consultant; Shonda Davis is technical director, and Picayune On Stage guiding force Gladys Hughes is artistic consultant.

The musical production was conceived and developed by David DeSliva, the book is by Jose Fernandez, lyrics are by Jacques Levy and the music is by Steve Margoshes. The title song, "Fame," was written by Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore.

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