Fame

Date 19th March 2022
Society Youth Connection Theatre Company
Venue Park View Community Centre Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Director Linda Watson
Musical Director David Johnson
Choreographer Rachel Duncan

Report

Author: Michelle Coulson

Two years after having their dress rehearsal for Fame interrupted and being told to leave the theatre as the country was in lockdown, I am delighted to see this group finally get their production in front of an audience. They have had to make some cast changes and endure the challenges that have come along with rehearsing during a pandemic, but they certainly came back with a bang.  Fame is an iconic musical rooted in the 1980s and it made leg warmers and leotards a fashion necessity at the time. Director Linda Watson, made the decision to bring this show into the present and it worked, the themes highlighted such as drug abuse, the need for fame, self-doubt, sexuality, weight issues, loneliness and dyslexia are as real and relevant now as they were 40 years ago. The show follows the lives of key students at the New York School for Performing Arts as they seek to develop their talents and get a big break.

The opening number was superb and set a standard we were to enjoy throughout the show, the ensemble work throughout was excellent, every cast member gave strong and confident performances.

Rachel Duncan gave a superb performance as the triple threat, obsessed with fame, outwardly strong but vulnerable Carmen, she had good chemistry with her fellow performers and her characterisation was believable. Rachel was also the choreographer for the production and did an excellent job of developing well executed modern and energetic numbers to suit the varying abilities of the cast.  As Schlomo Metzenbaum Jake Marshall gave his character the sincerity required to portray this quiet classical musician, coupled with great vocals. Schlomo’s duet with Carmen was particularly poignant with superb harmonies. Gary Hoyle is an experienced performer who knows how to deliver a number and this was evident in “I want to make Magic”. His character’s developing relationship with Serena was also well played. In the role of Serena Katz, Helen Chong gave a confident and authentic performance, her delivery of “Think of Meryl Streep” was powerful and passionate. Jack Piggot gave us a suitably insecure, irritating and immature characterisation of Jose “joe” Vegas, great comedic delivery and his “Can’t Keep it Down” number was a definite audience favourite.  The character of Tyrone Jackson is a complicated one with many layers and Steven Lauder gave a credible interpretation of the talented dancer’s struggles with relationships and dyslexia. Jamie Donkin as the food battling Mabel Washington was witty and full of life and gave a super performance of “Mabel’s Prayer”. Completing the principal student cast Katie Barton portrayed the role of Iris Kelly with sincerity, Chris Barrass gave us an enjoyable interpretation of jazz musician  Goodman “Goody” King and Beth Elvin was sassy as Grace “Lambchops” Lamb.

Often the teachers in this show are massively overshadowed by the students, but not in this production. Leading the line-up of teachers was Clare Musgrove as Miss Sherman. Clare’s interpretation of this character was excellent, strict but sincere, and her vocal performance of “These are my Children” was stunning. Emily Hardy as Miss Bell had the necessary attitude of the character and her duet with Miss Sherman “Teachers Argument” was very good. Mr Myers was played with conviction by Craig Wallace and James Hall as Mr Sheinkopf managed to maintain a good eastern European accent and delivered his character well.

The fixed set was good and functional with an upper level, the different scenes achieved with the addition of props and lighting changes; there was also clever use of levels and grouping in the ensemble scenes. The production was enhanced by good lighting and sound.

The 8 piece band were excellent and made a great sound giving perfect support to the performers.

This was a very enjoyable production and a super evening’s entertainment. Congratulations to Linda, David, Rachel and their production team, what a way to come back!