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Fame: The Musical (based on the 1980 movie by Alan Parker) conceived and developed by David De Silva (AKA Father Fame) is a musical with a book by Jose Fernandez, music by Steve Margoshes and lyrics by Jacques Levy. It has been seen by nearly 4 million people since its West End launch in 1995, for which it was nominated for 2 Laurence Olivier Awards. Since its London premiere at the Cambridge Theatre in July 1995, the production has completed four UK national tours, with another opening in Nottingham in January 2007.

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      27.05.2002 04:17
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      (NB : This is for the Bristol performance, not the London one, but hopefully it will be moved soon!) Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Bristol Hippodrome with my friend, Helen and her daughter, plus two of my daughters. We went to see the 2pm performance of Fame and had excellent front row seats. Being the kind person I am, I thought I’d share the experience with you all ;-) My kids have seen the TV show Fame and know the title track. We also have the film version on video, but as it is a certificate 15, they haven’t seen it yet. However, they seemed a bit confused to find the stage version has no Danny, no Bruno, no Doris, no Coco, no Leroy – in fact, all the names are completely different. This took us all a bit of getting used to, especially when you realise similar characters are there, but under different names. So you get Joe (Danny), Schlomo (Bruno), Mabel (Doris), Carmen (Coco) and Tyrone (Leroy). The music is also nothing we had ever heard before, except for the Fame song itself. The songs are good – some are outstanding – but once again, it makes the stage version a little less approachable, especially for children, who like something they recognise. The musical is set in and around the New York High School of Performing Arts between 1980 and 1984. The set is nice enough, but nothing flash – doors, a staircase, balcony and a large space of stage left bare for the song and dance routines. The story comprises familiar threads – a romance that seems never to get off the ground, a young black male dancer who is extremely talented but not very academic, a girl who takes drugs, a girl who is overweight and so on. The attraction in the stage musical is, of course, the impressive dance routines. No doubt about it, the cast are a very talented bunch. Being an ex-dancer and gymnast myself, I can be quite critical of these kinds of things but this performance was excell
      ent. Obviously, some of the cast are more talented than others, but there were some outstanding dancers in the show. There were also some beautiful singers, musicians and a whole host of skilful actors. The only name in the cast was Rebecca Wheatley, who played Amy in Casualty for four years and had a hit single with Everlasting Love. Other cast members who deserve a mention are Ben Heathcote (as Joe Vegas), Julie Atherton (as Serena Katz), Leigh-Anne Stone (as Mabel Washington), Chris Copeland (as Tyrone Jackson), Cathie Carday (as Iris Kelly) and Charlotte Marshall who did a great job as Carmen Diaz, usually played by Debbie Kurup. Mention should also be made of dancer Katy-Jo Howman, because she looked gorgeous and danced with a vivacity that was delightful to watch. The show lasted over two hours and it was rarely boring, although I did find my attention drifting somewhat through a couple of the longer songs. Incidentally, if you are planning to take children, there are a few swear words in it - usually the 'sh*t' word - but this may make it unsuitable for the youngest fans. The tickets (one adult, two kids) cost me £39, which was pretty expensive really and in hindsight, I think I might have saved the money for something else. But that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy it, because we did. I just felt it was somehow a bit disappointing. After the show, we waited outside the stage door for autographs. Most of the cast were happy to sign and chat to us, especially the lovely and warm Rebecca Wheatley. Julie Atherton was very sweet to the kids, as was Chris Copeland. Unfortunately, Ben Heathcote and Charlotte Marshall seemed to think they were better than us and hid their heads, making a dash for it! Ho hum. The 2002 tour continues to Belfast from tomorrow then travels to (in order) Blackpool, Bradford, Jersey, Bromley, Nottingham, Cornwall, Llandudno, Derry, Cheltenham, High Wycombe, Leicester,
      Northampton, Sheffield, Hull, Glasgow and finally concluding in Eastbourne in late October. (If anyone wants phone numbers and dates for a particular venue, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.) Overall, if you’ve got the spare cash and enjoy watching singing and high-energy dancing, this is the show for you. There is oodles of talent in this cast and hopefully many of them will go on to greater things. We did enjoy it, but if you go expecting the stage version to be faithful to the TV series we know and love, you’ll be disappointed. Our next trip to the theatre is on June 8th, when we go to see Grease. I’ll let you know how it goes. Fame website www.famenetwork.com

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