Amy Blackmore goes starry-eyed at ‘Fame’ and re-emerges wanting to live forever

Ok, so I admit I was a little sceptical about going to see ‘Fame’ by Central Hall Musical Society, in collaboration with Drama society and Music society. However, from start to finish, the standard of performance was so remarkable that I found it hard to fault. Central Hall was full, and the majority of the audience were as impressed with the enthusiasm and energy of the cast as I was.

The show follows the fortunes of a group of students at the New York High School of Performing Arts and, set in 1983, the show had all the singing, dancing, legwarmers and immortality that you could expect, or indeed hope for. Yet, ‘Fame’ isn’t just about feel-good song and dance, and the thing that really made the show work was the realism of the characters, as they struggled with distinctly non-musical problems such as illiteracy, drug abuse and, of course, the usual traumas of adolescent love.

The cast were impressive in their ability to sing, act and dance in a variety of styles. From ballet, to street, to Spanish Flamenco, they had most of the audience moving in their seats. Jerome Edet was absolutely amazing as Tyron Jackson. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, as he danced with so much rhythm and soul. He is bursting with talent and also sang a rap song and performed an acrobatic routine.

Louise Harris gave a gutsy rendition of ‘These are My Children’. As the suitably attired teacher Miss Sherman, she showed that talent and experience can count for more than an ability to look good in hotpants. Bobbi Hartshorne was also excellent as Mabel, the girl who enjoyed her food a bit too much for a dancer. She was enthusiastic and funny, singing some very amusing songs regarding her love of food. There were several funny songs in the show, one of the most successful being ‘Can’t Keep it Down while that Girl’s Around’ by Joe Vegas, played by Tom Rogers with much gusto.

A special mention should go to the musical ensemble, which complimented the stage performances extremely well. Katie Barnett’s enthusiastic musical direction was controlled and passionate, and the amount of time and effort invested into this performance was evident through the high standard of musical talent on show.

The show was technically impressive with its use of lighting and sound. The use of microphones at times was, however, a little distracting, as they seemed to only come on while the cast were singing, meaning the dialogue was sometimes difficult to hear. The team used the space in Central Hall effectively. Not only did dancers and actors emerge from various entrances, but they also set up two alternative scenes at the sides to avoid lengthy scene changes and provide variety.

When the cast burst into ‘Fame’ at the end, led by Carmen, played by the extremely talented Viki Jones, it was impossible not to join in, and the audience were clapping along. At the bargain price of £3.50, I encourage you to check out next year’s performance. It is sure to be an evening that will not disappoint.

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