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Fame the Musical at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh
Anything that has a story involving the performing arts has got to be of interest to any ardent theatregoer. And when it also includes award-winning songs and impressive dance routines it can’t help but be a winner.

Of course, Fame has already proved itself. Set in the New York High School for Performing Arts, it was originally a film, but since making its stage debut on Broadway in 1988 the musical has had seven West End runs and now it is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a massive tour.

By the length of the schedule I did wonder if the Edinburgh show was marking the beginning of the tour, or was it just the first night at a new venue? Certainly, the first half didn’t have a lot to commend it. Despite a hardworking cast it lacked pace and the sound was such that I couldn’t even hear the words to the classic I’m Gonna Live Forever.

However, the second half was well worth the wait. We don’t get to hear Mica Paris (as the head teacher) singing properly until two hours into the show but her rendering of These Are My Children alone was worth the price of a ticket. The building reverberated with her amazing delivery.

I’d like to think that the show was growing as the PA students did. It’s not just song and dance. It deals with the highs and lows all young people have to face as they go out into the world: there’s Tyrone’s illiteracy, Carmen’s drug abuse, identity, pride, respect and, naturally, young love - and heartbreak. It seems as the students blossom so does the show. Certainly, one of the highlights is streetwise rapper Tyrone’s ballet duet with Iris. It is beautifully executed. Hollyoaks’ Jorgie Porter may have had an advantage over Jamal Crawford, having been runner-up in Dancing on Ice, but Crawford’s character is much more complex and his versatility shines through.

Other memorable scenes include that of Carmen (Stephanie Rojas) (as Carmen!) leading a troupe of flamenco dancers on a red-lit stage which only adds to the excitement of the piece, and Hayley Johnston's powerful gospel style rendition of Mabel’s Prayer. Rojas also deserves credit for her final scene, played out with so much passion and angst. A real tear jerker!

I wasn’t a big fan of the set - the neon lighting was way too bright and what on earth were model cars doing running across the backcloth and up and down the proscenium arch?

The night before I had seen Saturday Night Fever. It’s a pity two such similar shows are on in Edinburgh at the same time. It’s an expensive week for fans of this genre! It is also difficult not to compare, but I have to say that, despite its slow start, Fame’s characters are definitely more believable, but then it has a stronger storyline. Saturday Night Fever is more about music and movement.

Fame the Musical is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Oct 27.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
It then continues touring:
Oct 29-Nov 3: Regent Theatre Ipswich
Nov 5-19: Theatre Royal Brighton
Nov 19-24: New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Nov 26-Dec 1: Waterside Aylesbury
Jan 21-26: Everyman Cheltenham
Jan 28-Feb 2: Theatre Severn Shrewsbury
Feb 4-9: Theatre Royal Bath
Feb 13-16: New Theatre Oxford
Feb 18-23: New Wimbledon Theatre
Feb 25-Mar 2: Eden Court Inverness
Mar 4-9: Opera House York
Mar 11-16: Liverpool Empire
Mar 26-30: Grimsby Auditorium
Apr 1-6: Grand Theatre Swansea
Apr 8-13: Sunderland Empire
Apr 15-20: Regent Theatre Stoke
May 8-26: Maag Halle Zurich, Switzerland
June 10-15: Bristol Hippodrome
June 24-29: Milton Keynes Theatre
July 1-6: Princess Theatre Torquay
July 9-13: Malvern Festival Theatre
July 15-20: Floral Pavilion New Brighton
Aug 12-17: Marlowe Theatre Canterbury
Sept 3-7: Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Sept 11-Oct 19: The Peacock Theatre, London