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Review: Fame, at Peacock Theatre

19 September, 2019 — By Howard Loxton

DAVID da Silva, the producer who conceived Fame, the 1980 movie inspired by the New York High School of the Performing Arts, first developed this reworking as a musical in 1988.

It’s had many stagings since and now this 30th-anniversary production brings it back to the West End.

Jose Fernandez’s book has a similar plot to the movie with its scenes of auditions and rehearsal but a different set of characters with much simpler storylines and, apart from the title number, different songs by Steve Margoshes and Jacques Levy.

Having established how tough it is to get in (4,000 applicants for 97 places), how hard they will have to work (with Hard Work) and their aspirations as would-be actor Nick sings I Want to Make Magic, we get a glimpse of his story and some others.

There is dyslexic street dancer Tyrone, a rebellious rapper who is paired as the partner of ballet-trained Iris (who isn’t the little rich girl they all think), of Hispanic Carmen impatient for stardom, disruptive Joe who instead of Shakespeare presents a song about an erection to his drama teacher.

There is intense Serena, who’s fallen for Nick, drummer Grace (known as Lambchops), weight-challenged Mabel with her seafood diet (“I see food and eat it”), brass-player Goody and Schlomo, aspiring composer who is in love with Carmen, though he loses her to a record baron and drug abuse.

They all get their chance to pour their hearts out in their own number but the show is driven by high-energy dance for whatever the area their characters are studying – actors, singers and instrumentalists, they have to meet the demands of director Nick Winston’s choreography.

Jamal Kane Crawford and Jorgie Porter as Tyrone and Iris give stunning performances, as Carmen Stephanie Rojas triumphantly delivers the iconic title song and in contrast the sad tale of her bad choices In LA and Simon Anthony is outstanding as Schlomo.

But what sends the audience wild is when teacher Miss Sherman sings: Nica Paris has them on their feet twice over.

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