Dancing, stage school, that one song… Before this night, that was the extent of my knowledge regarding Fame the musical. However, I was excited to see what it had in store.
Fame is a musical set in a famous performing arts school (The one from the OG Fame movie.) It follows the stories of various students from the drama, acting and dance strands of the school as they navigate the world of stage school, hard work, and possible stardom.
The episodic, ensemble style of it really reminded me of Rent, as it documented their struggles, their successes and their countless romances.
As I said, I went in with no idea what to expect. Honestly, I was so pleasantly surprised. It opened with an “audition” segment, followed by a real preppy and high energy number (Hard Work) and from there I knew that I’d enjoy it. From that, it moved through moments of hilarity (Can’t Keep it Down was a great start to the humour) and more serious moments and showstopping numbers, and was generally a really fun watch.
I always worry for musicals that focus on so many different storylines at once, because there’s a risk that we end up invested in none of the characters. However, Fame struck a great balance and I ended up equally invested in all of the storylines.
As a musical that focused on so many people, it was important that the cast shone as an ensemble as well as individually, and they most definitely did. I’ve seen shows like Come From Away, American Idiot and Rock of Ages where the band have played live instruments on stage, but it is rare that the actors themselves play live instruments on stage. However, I watched as those playing music students switched from instrument to instrument, playing them proficiently live on stage. It was thoroughly impressive and honestly, I don’t know if I could actually pick “standout” people considering they worked so well as a whole.
As someone who had only heard the song ‘Fame’ I had no idea what to expect. I feel like the soundtrack greatly varied from song to song, but still worked together as a whole. Each character seemed to have their own “sound” that tended to stick with them every time they sang. Also, the multiple reprises from the first to second act almost created “anthems” for a few of the characters. All in all, I enjoyed the songs. However, it’s definitely the sort of soundtrack that I’d pick and choose songs to listen from, rather than let play from start to finish. My personal favourites included:
This song is clearly designed to be a moment of light comic relief, sung by Joe, the joker of the production, and it definitely delivers as one. It’s jokey, it’s incredibly light-hearted and a good pick me up, and Albey Brooke’s performed it fantastically.
Carmen definitely has the most intense of the storylines in this production, and though this song occurs before things get super serious, it served as a chance for Stephanie Rojas to really show off her skills. She was incredibly captivating and both her dancing and vocals were ridiculously good.
As someone who had never listened to the soundtrack before, I was surprised when it transitioned into Fame. However, the the transition was so smooth musically and the dancers really came alive, making it a welcome surprise.
Though I don’t think it’s one that I would listen to on a regular basis, it needed a mention. The lyrics are funny and cute and quirky, and Molly McGuire performed it fantastically. She really captivated the audience as the sole person on stage for the whole song, and you couldn’t help but smile as you watched her.
The only complaint that I really had involves the program. It doesn’t have a song list in it. I get really upset by programs that don’t have the tracklist in them (This is the second one that I’ve encountered).
Yes, I really would! I think that it’s a really good show for towing the line between “classical” musical theatre and musical theatre that appeals to a more modern audience.
The songs are fun, the dance and the music are so fantastic to watch, and it’s filled with both laughter and tears. It’s a great night of entertainment and if you have the chance to see it on tour, definitely do! You fan find the available tour locations and dates here.
Thank you so much to Bristol Hippodrome for inviting me to the press night, and thanks to the cast of Fame for being so lovely and welcoming at the Q&A afterwards!
Have you seen Fame? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments!
Lots of love,
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Hey, I'm Jasmine Burke. A girl in her twenties fresh out of Uni that's trying to write in any way that she can. I go under the branch of "lifestyle" but honestly, you can find pretty much anything on here.
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