The stage show of the film returned to London in October 2000.
Fame returned to The Apollo Victoria in London in October. The story remains the same, with a bunch of hopefuls giving their all during a three-year stint at The New York School for The Performing Arts.
The young cast give some marvellous performances, especially Tee Jaye as Tyrone, and Nicola Dawn, giving a sweet comic turn as Serena Katz. The dancing, choreographed by Lars Bethke, is tightly executed, but from the opening number it begs the question: if they can all dance like that, why bother going to school?
Sadly the storylines do not match the dancing. There is no subject too important to be trivialised. "You're not black, you have no rhythm" says Tyrone to Iris Kelly. "You don't have the technique to dance ballet, you're black" responds the white character. Along with racism, illiteracy, drug abuse and homosexuality are all raised and dismissed with fairy-tale level solutions.
The character actors are ably supported by several dancers in the ensemble pieces. Debbie Jenkins and dance captain Jane Housley stand out in this respect. Mention too, for the orchestra under the direction of David Beer, who play a number of styles required for the dances.
Early in the show, teacher Miss Sherman (Golda Rosheuvel) declares "This is hard work - it's not about dancing around in the street on cars". But for the encore, a yellow New York cab is wheeled out for precisely this reason. And it is only then that the title song gets an airing, which is a shame because it is the pivotal number of the movie.
Fame is a story that most people know by now, having seen the film or one of the touring productions. This effort is well up to standard with the dancing and the comic touches, it's just a shame that its treatment of serious subjects would insult the minds of most schoolchildren. If you can get past these plot shortcomings, this is a fun night out.
© 2000 Andrew Winton.
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