Friday 28 June 2002

2002: Fame: The Musical

Fame: The Musical. Conceived by David De Silva, book by Jose Fernandez, lyrics by Jacques Levy, music by Steve Margoshes.  G-String Productions at The Street Theatre June 27-? 8pm.

    The 4 actors I think would have passed in Fame School are Renay Hart as Mabel Washington, Carrol Oormilla as Miss Sherman, Roxane Ruse as Serena Katz and Jessica Taylor as Carmen Diaz.  Now I've offended the other 26, let me say that this production of a peculiarly difficult example of musical theatre rocks and rolls along very nicely.  On opening night the actors had a strong sense of working together and the orchestra was excellent (plus terrific drumming by Olivia Harkin as Grace 'Lambchops' Lamb) and a good time was had by all on and off the stage.

    Fame is, of course, a nightmare for non- or semi-professionals because the student characters are supposed to be young, full of themselves and untrained, but the acting, singing, dancing and musicianship required to create these characters on stage convincingly has to be top-notch.  In addition, the script focusses too briefly on too many characters, so making each character stand out requires a high degree of stage presence.  This is the quality that each of my 'cum laude' actors had: you felt you had to watch them.

    Musical theatre has begun to take its own place in theatre training in recent times.  As standards inevitably rise, community based companies like G-String will need to work at higher level skills on stage and improving technical standards.  In this show dance and choreography needed to be much more vibrant and original.  I hope real New Yorkers close their eyes for the Dancin' on the Sidewalk number.  Not all the singing was strong and precisely pitched, and only some numbers were arranged with really dramatic harmonies and cross-rhythms which are essential to American culture.  Sound quality has to be a problem when every actor and musician is miked and there is no way enough money for top of the line equipment.  Fortunately Chris Neal did well to listen to the flat quality in the first half and get much better definition of the voices for the second half on opening night.

    But ignore my quibbles: go for Fame and enjoy.

© Frank McKone, Canberra

No comments: