Fame – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By @Steve Crabtree, August 2018
Give me the chance to see a musical that’s firmly rooted in the 80s, and I will snap your leg warmers off. And as Fame, the musical based on the 1982 TV show of the same name is in Bradford this week, you wouldn’t have been able to keep me away from the Alhambra on opening night.
Celebrating 30 years since it first hit the stage, Fame chronicles the lives, the trials and the tribulations of a group of students. The “cream of the crop”, lucky enough to get in to New York’s High School of Performing Arts.
“Highly energetic and exuberant”
And in a theatre that’s packed, bright lights fire in to our eyes as the show begins. And from the off we know what we’re going to get.
The cast bounce on to the stage performing ‘Hard Work’. With them comes a highly energetic and exuberant show of talented dancers, singers, and instrumentalists.
Behind the cast is a backdrop of sheer 80’s american school significance. A fixture throughout, a large wall of yearbook images dominates the stage, and subtly changes and adapts throughout the show.
“Sassy and confident”
As you’d expect, we’re treated to musical numbers coming at us thick and fast, alongside some amazing choreography.
It was the original dance school drama for teens. And although it created a model for modern day shows of a similar ilk, none have managed to touch Fame. It was a quality drama about talented kids, but didn’t just focus on dreams and ambition. It carried a certain element of grit and edge to it, worked nicely in to each and every storyline.
They’ve managed to tie that in to the stage version too. We’ve got adolescents growing up, and dealing with prejudice, sexuality, racism, substance abuse and identity issues. And although those elements might affect the flow of the story slightly, they’re played out really well.
Cast wise, Hollyoaks star Jorgie Porter took top billing for this show, playing Iris. And alongside her, Any Dream Will Do finalist Keith Jack played Nick. They were joined by UK soul-singer Mica Paris as Miss Sherman. And it was Mica who absolutely stole the vocal performance of the show midway through act two. Her stunning rendition of ‘These Are My Children’ – where it was just us and her – was incredible. The power that lady sang with had us captivated. Or, as is the instruction in Fame, we paid attention. She proved in that number just what a fantastic bit of casting it was to get her in to the show.
But special mentions must go to Jamal Kane Crawford, who superbly played the likable, cool, sometimes cocky, but illiterate Tyrone. And Stephanie Rojas took the sassy and confident character of Carmen on a fiery ride of determination, emotion and tragedy; and did so with aplomb.
The energy and movement of Morgan Jackson in the ensemble was astounding throughout too.
“The Alhambra is on its feet”
We forget that Fame wasn’t all about the upbeat numbers. We’re in a danceschool after-all, and there’s plenty of graceful ballet sequences that are simply beautiful.
As the pupils graduate, the Fame comes towards its end and the audience have really enjoyed the show. The energy of the cast has flowed in to us, and we’ve been given maybe a bit more drama than we’d bargained for too. We liked that.
But we all know what’s coming. THAT song. That theme tune that’s gonna live forever. And as the cast tear off their graduation robes, the Alhambra is on its feet. I’ve come along with great company tonight, with someone who’s just as in to the 80’s scene as I am, and we’ve both got the moves (or so we think!). We’re signing along as Stephanie Rojas powers through the Fame theme tune, and everyone in the auditorium knows every word.
Fame is a show I’ve been looking forward to for months, and one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. And I’m still singing the theme tune.