Fame @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury (atgtickets.com)
Do you remember the early 80s?  The time of huge hair, shoulder pads, Dynasty, Dallas and Charlie’s Angels?  In contrast to the glamour of these infamous TV shows, the film Fame hit the cinemas changing the lives of aspiring performers forever.  Set in the New York City High School for Performing Arts, the film portrayed the lives of a group of talented students who came from tough backgrounds to follow their dreams of fame and fortune.

Fame was directed by Alan Parker, who’d achieved great acclaim directing
TV commercials, including the memorable Cinzano series featuring Joan Collins and Lenard Rossiter.  The young hopefuls in the film all had their own particular problems, from illiteracy to unwanted pregnancy, but the school was the way to propel themselves out of the mire to achieve their ambitions to perform.    The taglines ‘if they’ve really got what it takes, it’s going to take everything they’ve got’ and ‘you want fame? Well, fame costs and right here is where you start paying in sweat’ showed that to succeed you needed to work extremely hard, be dedicated and committed. 

The film won Michael Gore two Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Song.  It spawned a TV series, which won Emmy Awards in 1983 and 1984, a TV series spin-off, a stage musical and has been remade for the cinema. 

After seven runs in the West End, this 30th anniversary tour of Fame, stars Mica Paris (Miss Sherman), Keith Jack (Nick) and Jorgie Porter (Iris). 
There are some lovely dance routines between Iris and Tyrone (Jamal
Crawford), particularly in the second act.  Katie Warsop (Miss Bell and Resident Choreographer) has great presence, lighting up the stage whenever she was on.

The first act was rather flat and the song melodies and lyrics were unmemorable, making it hard to really care about what happened to any of the students.  Thankfully the second act lifted and the highlight of the show was when Mica Paris sang her solo.  She really did ‘take it to church’ and  belted out her number, taking full control of the show.

Everyone wanted to hear the song ‘Fame’ and apart from a condensed version in the first act (partly in Spanish), we had to wait till the end to close the show.  Still it’s a good tactic
as it leaves the audience on a high and that’s what they'll remember most about the show.

Times have changed since I was at drama school, as nowadays it’s all about TV talent shows with contestants forgetting about school and heading towards fame and fortune at any cost.  Luck plays a big part in whether you succeed, but the cast of this show have all trained and worked hard to get a chance to perform, which will give them longevity in this fickle business.  Fame the musical does give an insight into the business that is still relevant today, the realities and the challenges students face.

 Fame runs to 1st December at The Waterside Theatre.  Further tour dates
can be found on www.fametour.co.uk   

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