Fame the Musical

Book by Jose Fernandez, lyrics by Jaques Levy, music by Steve Margoshes
Sunderland Empire and touring
(2005)

A well known and very popular musical, running for a fourth year in the West End and back on tour: from a show like this you expect something really great, but on my second outing to Fame I still don't see why this is thought to be a great show!

Fame is set in the New York School of Performing Arts where there are fifty seven aspiring student's wanting to be the best. The school is filled with musicians, dancers and actors, they are all seeking one thing. Yes you've guessed it…FAME! A setting very familiar to me, as I have been a student of the Performing Arts and have met every character in this show. Each student struggles with their own demons and complications, fighting to make it to graduation day and to get that one step closer to being a star.

The cast are strong and very competent with tons of energy. However there are two outstanding performances. One is from James Haggie (Joe `Jose' Vagas) the wannabe stand-up comic. James has a great voice and puts in a great comic performance that at times slides into the great Andy Kauffman's creation Latka Gravas from the American sitcom Taxi. The other is from Graig Stein (Tyrone Jackson) the talented but troubled dancer. He shines with a great strong soulful voice and looks like he is dancing on air.

The set design by Adrien Rees is a fairly simple box set. It features a number of doors and two spiral staircases which lead to the main area, serving as the many classrooms of the school. This is helped along by the occasional black board or dance mirror being flown in.

The big let down for me however has to be the lack of great musical numbers. There is not one song in the show that grabs me, evokes any emotion or has me humming the tune after the show ends, which is something I do expect from a successful musical. Every song left my head the moment it ended: music that does not stay with you is not good music.

Fame offers a lot of energy from a good cast with some nice choreography but I wouldn't go out and buy a cast recording. Music for me is the heart of a musical and this show's heart has a weak pulse!

Steve Orme also reviewed this show at Nottingham

Reviewer: Wayne Miller