Fame the Musical – review

Peacock Theatre
Review by: Christina McDougall
Published: Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 11:59am
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Fame the Musical, Peacock Theatre
Fame the Musical, Peacock Theatre

If you grew up watching the TV show Fame, then you will enjoy this fun family show. Set in a performing arts high school in the 80s, we watch the students work their socks off as they sing, dance and act their way to graduation.

Unlike most of the audience I didn’t grow up watching Fame, so I had little knowledge of the characters or story line, however, it reminded me of the countless step up films I watched growing up.

One of my favourite characters was Miss Sherman, performed by Mica Paris. Although she wasn’t on stage as much as I wanted, her voice was remarkable, and she had a great stage presence.

Fame the Musical, shows us snippets of each students’ lives and their journey towards stardom as they juggle relationships whilst trying to become a triple threat in the performing arts industry. The main character whose life we follow is Carmen (Stephanie Rojas) who goes from a fresh-faced student to a drug addict with terrible consequences. However, sadly for the audience, Carmen is the only character with a solid storyline as she is the only one with a developed and realistic backstory that doesn’t revolve around the school.

Despite Carmen appearing to be the main character the audience took a shine to Tyrone – an African American student who ticked all the stereotypes – athletic, street dancer, rapper who……… can’t read. Now, usually I don’t mind musicals having a few stereotypes but the portrayal in this production grated on me. Perhaps it was the 99 percent white audience wolf whistling at Tyrone whilst he was exposed by his teacher for being unable to read that did it for me. Or the fact that he was one of the only two angry characters (the other being the only other black character in the play). Or that he was the only character that was disrespectful to women; calling them bitches.  Or his unnecessary use of the N word. The character of Tyrone portrayed black men in a negative light, which was extremely disappointing to see when this was the only black male character in the play.  With this in mind it is worth noting that although his character wasn’t what I wanted to see, the actor (Jamal Kane Crawford) performed him extremely well and showcased his great dancing skills.

Although I wasn’t blown away by this production, the rest of the audience absolutely loved it as they gave a standing ovation and screamed with joy at the end.

Despite not liking the storyline (or lack of) the talent both on and off the stage were faultless, every actor had beautiful voices and amazing dancing skills. One of my favourite characters was Miss Sherman, performed by Mica Paris. Although she wasn’t on stage as much as I wanted, her voice was remarkable, and she had a great stage presence. It was worth watching the show just to hear her perform! Lee Tassie’s costume design and Morgan Larges stage design fit the theme perfectly and I enjoyed the smooth and simple scene changes throughout the play.

Unfortunately, I found the storyline dated and at times boring and very cheesy. I would love more dialogue and stronger character development as the play consisted of song after song that loosely held together a weak storyline.   Although I wasn’t blown away by this production, the rest of the audience absolutely loved it as they gave a standing ovation and screamed with joy at the end.

NEED TO KNOW: Fame the Musical is at the Peacock Theatre until 19 Oct 2019 | See listing | BOOK TICKETS NOW | See tour dates