The curtain has risen on Fame The Musical at the New Theatre, Cardiff with high energy, raw emotion and kids with attitude. Whilst this isn’t light-hearted fun, this stage version presents the reality of those seeking the bright lights. Reeling the audience in with the familiar line, “You want fame? Well, fame costs. And here is where you start paying, in sweat!” so we are introduced to an ensemble whose lives we absorb in the 2hr 30min performance. Somehow we find ourselves following them in this short time from audition through to graduation.
In bringing Fame The Musical to life, the production has successfully stayed as faithful to the tv series but straying into broader themes and relevance to today’s audience. Ensuring a new generation are inspired in understanding and wanting to be a part of the performing arts.
Initially separated by specialism of acting, music or dance we are slowly introduced to the breadth of each character. Slowly throughout their stories, lines fade and what are left with a truly ensemble production. With love interests, friendships and personal exploration there is much to appeal to a broad audience.
It’s difficult to know where to begin with the cast. In creating appeal it is almost impossible to identify a single standout performance. This truly is an ensemble production. The strength of the seemingly simple, yet intuitive set along with Nick Winston’s tight choreography allows the performers to integrate music and dance without compromising character development.
In Fame The Musical we most keenly witnessing the development of three relationships, with each having its own side story. Through the dance classes we are introduced to hip-hop focused Tyrone (Jamal Kane Crawford) and ballerina Iris (Jorgie Porter). Not only demonstrating a strong skill but in the story we explore preconceptions, racism and dyslexia. I think for younger audiences it is in this relationship that the story in most engaging, exploring challenge and resilience.
In Serena (Molly McGuire) and Nick (Keith Jack) we see a relationship develop over the performance into something significant. McGuire’s comic timing allowing Nick’s seriousness to be understood. The eventual declaration of love offering a more traditional romance story associated with the movies.
Stephanie Roja as Carmen creates the standout moments of the musical. With a challenging storyline of drug addiction contrasting with her declaration of “I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m going to live forever”. Rojas is inspiring in her rendition of There She Goes/ Fame and allows her tragedy to provide the darker moments of the evening.
And so, with enough of a story to keep the musical moving, and enough grit to ensure the story of a New York performing arts school to seem real, Fame The Musical creates a different kind of magic.
Alongside these stories, there are moments which demonstrate the talent of the cast and create memories. From the song Hard Work, demonstrating the commitment and energy of the ensemble to Mica Paris’s performance of These Are My Children confirming the balance of Miss Sherman’s firm but caring principal.
Fame The Musical not only ensures an older generation is satisfied that Fame legitimately holds its place in history but offers an engaging, talent-filled production to inspire a generation not as familiar with 1984.
Fame The Musical is at The New Theatre until Saturday 29th September with tickets available via the website.
Disclosure: We were invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions contained are our own.