mica malvern

Mica Paris as Principal Sherman tells the Fame pupils what is expected of them

Fame The Musical

Malvern Theatres


Anyone of a certain age can remember the buzz that went with the original Fame.

The urge to wear leg-warmers, suddenly jump up dancing to the Academy Award-winning title song (preferably on a car) and the youthful zest of the characters.

This 30th anniversary tour of Fame The Musical hoped to bring the essence of the original 1988 Broadway theatre version back to stage, but seemed to have missed a trick.

In the past three decades, the ambition to be famous at any cost has surged and there is a new generation of X Factor and The Voice hopefuls that this musical could have tapped into if it was more relevant to them.

Instead it has stayed with its origins and not updated the issues to modern times or made the set something more exciting and hi-tech.

Even staying in the Eighties, this could have been much more fun with outrageously kitsch fashions and nods to moments in that era.

The story revolves around a variety of new pupils as they progress through the performing arts school in New York. They all have their hang-ups and these range from Schlomo the son of a concer violinist trying to break free of his family's success to Carmen the Latino survivor who has more ambition than anyone else and talented dancer Tyrone, who is struggling with his studies.

There are nine key characters to follow, including HollyOaks  Jorgie Porter as ballerina Iris, but the storylines don't have much depth and aren't hard-hitting enough for today's standards. 

Dyslexia and drug issues are in there, but it's mostly about teenagers lusting after each other. Much of it seems a tad childish for the majority of the audience aged over 40 because they are nostalgic for the original.

The plot with most bite is about Carmen, who inexplicably progresses quickly from diet pills to cocaine. There needed to be more background on this, but that said Stephanie Rojas in the role is one of the strongest members of the younger cast.

It also isn't helped that the characters are supposed to be adolescents but all seem much older - at least in their late 20 s to 30 s in most cases. It is also strange that they have picked slender dancer Hayley Johnston to play Mabel, who is struggling with her weight. At least do more suitable casting and select someone with a bulge of any kind.

The most suited in terms of youth was an impressive Ryan Kayode as Tyrone, but he was an understudy standing in for the night.

The show's real highlight and saving grace is securing soul singer Mica Paris to the cast as stern principal Miss Sherman. 

Despite being wasted for much of the production with one so-so song in the first act, she owned the stage when performing These Are My Children in Act Two. The power and technique of her voice made everything else in this musical seem pale in comparison. 

Without Paris, this would have been a below-average production. She lifts it, especially when she sings the famous title song in the finale, which is still the best track in the whole show.

I was left disappointed, but maybe it's a case that Fame doesn't live forever. To 13-07-19.

Alison Brinkworth


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