High energy, catchy numbers, and big dreams are what I think of when it comes to ‘Fame’ – and this production certainly brought all three. Featuring excellent dance numbers and live music, as well as (mostly) good quality acting, the performance was polished and kept the audience engaged throughout.
I was immediately impressed by the staging. The wall of photographs which lit up in different colours really helped to set the mood for the individual songs, as well as to set the tone for the whole performance. Every prop that was brought onto the stage felt like it belonged there. In particular, the lockers and the blackboard really helped to reinforce the high school atmosphere.
This production features some real shining stars on the stage. Stephanie Rojas brought a lot of life to the role of Carmen, especially during her heartbreaking performance of ‘In LA’ – the emotion in her voice and the sheer level of skill with which she portrayed her character gave me chills. Miss Sherman (Mica Paris) was a crowd favourite, and it is not hard to see why. Bringing an incredible set of vocals to the stage, she gave a new perspective on a character I had not given much thought to before. Another singer whose voice I really loved was Simon Anthony, who played the role of Schlomo. His opening to the reprise of ‘Bring On Tomorrow’ was moving in the best way.
The dancing was also of a very high standard, benefiting from excellent choreography that let each cast member have a chance to impress the audience. In every group dance, I found myself looking for Tyrone (Jamal Kane Crawford) – his dancing was absolutely superb. Hayley Johnston as Mabel, showed off some impressive moves as well. Every member of the cast, including the ensemble dancers, performed the choreography wonderfully.
A stumbling block that this production faced was the acting, which occasionally fell short of the excellent standard set by the other aspects of the show. Some scenes were over-acted, and at times it felt like the actors were shouting their lines at each other when the characters were meant to be sharing a private moment. As a result, certain romances felt forced. It also surprised me that not every actor seemed to ‘feel’ what they were singing. I was missing some of that magic that the lyrics of ‘I Want To Make Magic’ refer to.
I am ambivalent about the costuming. In the first act, the costumes did not scream 80s at all – they felt more contemporary, if anything. However, the second act featured some very striking costume choices. The stark difference between the Carmen who sings the iconic line “I’m gonna live forever” and the Carmen who collapses on the ground after losing everything comes across well in the costumes that Stephanie Rojas wears. ‘Mabel’s Prayer’ also features some great costume choices. Still, I couldn’t help but wish that there was a pair of legwarmers or something neon-colored on some of the actors.
PHOTOS: Tristram Kenton