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Home > Past Buzz > Hoping for a shot at 'Fame'

Staff photo by Jeff Pouland
Kelti Collins, a choreographer for "Fame Forever,'' leads potential cast members during a day of auditions at The Center in Waterville on Saturday.

WATERVILLE -- Brittany Yorks strutted across the dance studio floor in black patent-leather heels, eyed the sheet music and belted out the lyrics to "Fame":

"Baby, look at me, and tell me what you see!" she sang.

She didn't look the least bit nervous, singing before 20 other teenagers, the director, pianist and musical director. Her voice was loud and clear; she exuded confidence.

But the 14-year-old Augusta girl admitted afterward that she was extremely nervous -- yet excited -- before auditioning for "Fame Forever."

After all, the sequel to "Fame," to open at the Opera House in September, will be the U.S. premiere of the theatrical production.

Yorks was one of dozens of central Maine teenagers who turned out Saturday at The Center downtown to audition for the show.

The curly-haired brunette also had to show her skills as a dancer, as ensemble parts call for both singing and dancing.

"I think I did pretty well at singing and I think I did OK at dancing," Yorks said. "But if I learn the choreography -- if I make it (get a part) -- then it will take me a little bit of time to pick it up. But I'll get it, and I'll do my best."

Waterville was chosen as the location for the premiere by David De Silva, who conceived, developed and produced the 1980 Academy Award-nominated movie "Fame," and worked on the theatrical version, which came later.

De Silva said recently that he heard "Fame, the Musical" had a successful showing here last year and he was looking for a community in which to premiere the sequel.

He came to Waterville last year and met Opera House Director Diane Bryan, and later she and "Fame" director Debra Susi of Pittsfield went to New York to meet De Silva and iron out details.

He liked what he saw in Waterville and loved the Opera House, he told the Morning Sentinel last month.

The original "Fame" is about students who audition for the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, and follows their struggles, heartbreaks and triumphs after they are accepted. "Fame Forever" takes place 20 years later and reveals the fate of some of the original characters -- now grown -- and their children, who are students at the school.

Susi traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, last month to see the international premiere. She watched and listened closely Saturday as one teen after another stood before musical director Mike Peterson and pianist Chris Ganza and sang their hearts out.

Afterward, the teens went downstairs in The Forum to audition before choreographer Keltie Collins, whose daughter, Holly Wietecha, last year played Carmen, the lead role, in "Fame, the Musical." Wietecha was helping her mother with auditions, but said she planned to audition for an adult role.

The excitement was palpable Saturday as teens packed the Opera House ticket office and reception area, waiting for their chance to be seen and heard.

Beatrice Conover and Hannah Beaulieu, both 15 and from Oakland, said they hoped to get singing and dancing roles. They said they were in the children's chorus for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," directed by Susi this spring.

"I like musicals," Beaulieu said. "It's a bunch of fun. It's a good experience."

After auditioning, Conover appeared relieved.

"(My) singing was good and the dancing part, I'm not really sure about," she said.

As she packed up to leave, Yorks said she learned about auditions from her voice teacher, Jillaine McGough, who encouraged her to try out. A Cony High School freshman, Yorks is a member of the Cony Madrigals, a singing chorus.

Yorks' mother, Jan, said her daughter auditioned for "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and was accepted, but had to bow out because the Cony Madrigals were scheduled to take part in the Heritage Music Festival in New York the weekend "Joseph" opened. The Madrigals won a silver medal at that event.

She said she is proud of her daughter -- who wants to be a music teacher one day -- and will drive her to auditions all summer if she gets accepted.

"I'll support her in whatever activity she chooses," she said.

Both Bryan and Susi said those auditioning would be notified about whether they are chosen for parts by mail within a couple of weeks. They said they were pleased with the turnout Saturday.

"They're (auditions) going really well," said Susi, who also directed the show "Chicago" last year. "We'll see what tomorrow brings. It's a hard time slot to fill because it's summer months. I think those people that really want to do this -- they'll be here and we'll get more people tomorrow."

Adults auditioned later in the day. Auditions continue today. Teens ages 16-19 will audition from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Adults up to 55 years old will audition from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Wednesday, a general audition for those who could not make it Saturday or Sunday will be held 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247

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