West End of London hits West End Of Shrewsbury!

Selladoor Productions Present

Fame

Theatre Severn

Monday 28th January-Saturday 2nd February

There was a whole host of intrigue into the operations of the American Fame Academies. Imagine 1978, Irene Cara was whizzing up the charts with Fame (the Song) and on a Thursday if the video jukebox and the Lycra in the pub didn’t tempt you then you may have been sat at home awaiting the weekly edition of Fame.  Oh for the times we shared with good old Leroy and a wholesome bunch of American kids chasing their dream of stardom. That might have been enough but a lack-luster movie of the same name followed it along and disappointed a huge audience. So thirty years ago, convinced that the concept was a good one off they ran with Fame… The Musical.

What a difference thirty years can make. Fame the musical, whilst full of incredibly talented singers and dancers doesn’t quite hit the mark.

With a cast supremely headed up my Mica Paris one thought this cannot fail and in fact to the vast majority of the audience it did exactly what it said it was going to do. However, this is not a strong narrative and the characters whilst again brilliantly drawn by the players, are vacuous arrogant, conceited and on the whole thoroughly un-likeable. That is a gamble. Of course the face of pure determinism can be ugly but those that help others on their way to the top are to be applauded loudly. Unfortunately this Alma Marta decided that the best way to get to the top was to demand a place at the table. It made for too much confrontation and too much demanding superiority.

That is where this show falls down, it has made the characters so focused on their goal their demands and no half measured approach to stardom leaves one asking the question, if you have to be that horrid to make it to the top then why would anybody want to bother?

For some reason the characters are so largely drawn. Quite intentionally almost pantomimic, each one didn’t have a small angst, they had to have a massive angst, they didn’t just have a little problem learning in school,  it had to be massive!

 However the most uncomfortable scene for a lot of theatre goers was when Tyrone, (Jamal Crawford) who was black, played the race card against Miss Sherman, (Mica Paris) about how no one understood what it was like to be black; and yet he was having this scene with black soul singer Mica Paris. Were we not supposed to notice that fact? It jarred and didn’t work. In fact his problems were everybody else’s fault and this audience member for one felt culpable for all the rotten times he has ever had, presumably caused by not being a star.

Another character proved the only realistic alternative for her career choice was to get involved in the LA drug scene and die. It is tragic people do but it gives out the message to any kids with a dream, if it doesn’t work out you will end up on the streets of LA turning tricks and sniffing crack. It really isn’t true Kids! You can have a go at performing arts you may make it, you may not but one thing to assure failure would be to utterly demand stardom. This show thinks that is ok.

Tecnically this show was spot on. Hitting an incredibly complex lighting and sound plan is a tricky business and when technical language is heavily relied on then this show measures up alongside the best of them.

The set whilst minimalistic was creative and incredibly cleverly worked out. However with clichés flying like wrecking balls it was amazing any of it was left standing by the end.

However in fairness the talent was in no doubt on the stage tonight. The singing and harmonies are quite outstanding at times and the ensemble dance routine were in parts, breathtaking. Ms. Paris’s voice is sounding good just now and those blues tones found in the greats like Elle Fitzgerald and Gloria Gaynor and more recently Ruby Turner, it was a joy to hear her sing and this reviewer would sit and listen to hours of her. Control beyond Mica Paris is maybe one of the best vocalists to have come around in any musical before. Simply perfect.

The choreography was so powerful, in your face and energetic if it was energy these characters wanted to be stars at, were that ever possible, they all shone like Stellas!

In summary one found a brilliantly talented cast who kind of shone far brighter than the script they were presenting. Of course I may well be wrong the whoops and cheers and ovation made this reviewer think he may have fallen into the wrong show right at the end. But no the talent deserved the applause the material not so much!

This is a Three Star Review

Owen J.Lewis

 

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. Follow hos blogspot at https://owenscribblerlewis.blogspot.com

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