Review: Fame: The Musical

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Picture: Comp
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Picture: Comp
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A LOT has changed in celebrity culture since David De Silva introduced a bunch of fame-hungry wannabes from a New York Performing Arts school to a cinematic audience in 1980.

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Fame: The Musical. Picture: Comp

Fame: The Musical. Picture: Comp


As we’re all aware, Big Brother, over-exposure on social media and overnight-success TV-talent-shows are now de rigeur.

Yet while everyone can achieve their 15 minutes of fame courtesy of YouTube, no-one seeking worldwide celebrity (talented or not) can be bothered putting in the hard work any more.

Gary Lloyd’s updated version of the musical may continue to point out the harsh realities of quick-fix notoriety, but what truly take things up to date are the substitution of leg-warmers for mobile phones, references to latter-day celebs such as Katy Perry, and the welcome inclusion of a rather funky live band (perched high above the actors). Oh, and a rap, too.

In 2014, the students come across as a gang of new-age, bohemian hippies. Naturally, they all have their problems and the teachers are just a bunch of stiffs who like to shout a lot.

Speaking of issues, hip-hopping Tyrone (Alex Thomas) is illiterate, Mabel (Molly Stewart) struggles with her weight, and Carmen (Jodie Steele) is, well, just too talented to be wasting her time in class.

Ignoring the rather clunky and distracting stage set, the real allure of this production is – yes, you guessed it – the singing and dancing.

The choreography is as tight as the traffic on Times Square, and the closing pop-show element will, at the very least, leave you feeling like you truly experienced something – even if the one-dimensional emotions of the characters don’t.

The flamenco-infused Junior Festival segment, meanwhile, has more shine than a bottle of Mr Sheen, and despite not being one of the main stars, Stewart’s solo singing performance is head and shoulders above anyone placed higher than her on the cast sheet.

And therein lays the irony: while none of the actors from the original 1980 movie and its subsequent TV spin-off went on to discover any real fame, one or two here may well go on to realise the real thing for them-selves.

• Run ends Saturday