New Victoria Theatre, Woking
For those of us who recall sitting in on Saturday nights in the 1980s to watch that electrifying television series Fame, the musical was, sadly, a poor substitute, scarcely stirring the dying embers of such a fond memory.
Not that it was a bad show, it's just that it was bereft of those characters we loved so well, those dance crazy routines we tried to emulate, and some great Eighties ballads.
The show does, of course, follow the original basic story of a number of characters through their time at the New York High School of Performing Arts.
There was more than passing resemblance in these new characters to the likes of Coco, Leroy, Danny and Doris and the rest, along with some remarkably similar storylines.
But somehow, trying to squeeze the all the highs and lows, tears and tantrums of three years education into a two hour show didn't quite work.
The set, switching from exterior to interior of the Performing Arts school was well designed, with good levels provided by raised walkways on spiral stairs, leaving plenty of floor space for the energetically choreographed group numbers.
Drop in mirrors and a 'trucked' office suite provided additional variation to the setting.
The lighting was generally sympathetic throughout, though there was a tendency to leave the principal singers in overly dim followspots.
Despite the lack of familiar songs, save the final encore of Fame, musical director Robert Chalmers provided a company whose quality of diction and harmonies was quite excellent, while the choreography, restaged by Karen Bruce, was superbly executed.
Of the several principal roles Holly James (Carmen) and Danielle Cato (Iris) were well matched as the female rivals in dance, with an excellent display of talent in Dance Class, and James's In LA was simply outstanding.
Tommy Sherlock (Nick) and Nikki Davis Jones (Serena) brought the best out in each other as the love-struck actors. Their solos, I Want to Make Magic and Let's Play a Love Scene, were particular high points of the show.
And while Nicholas Larkin's musical ability was displayed in the form of the sensitive Schlomo, Tarisha Rommick's excitable self-confessed 'fatty' Mabel was a well rounded comic cameo.
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