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REVIEW: Fame The Musical at The Alexandra

Based on the 1980 film, Fame The Musical is - by its own admission - an 'international smash hit sensation'. It follows the lives of students at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, and the romances and the heartbreaks, of life.

Fame is probably one of the first musicals I ever saw, so it holds a special place in my heart. This production was sold to me as a reinvention of the show which was a bittersweet sentiment. Certainly, the last few versions I've seen have never really reinvented the wheel. The same set, the same orchestration - possibly even the same costumes - had made the show start to seem as generic as they come. However a small part of me also quite liked that and didn't want this new version to attempt to modernise or majorly alter anything about it. 

The show has seen no less than seven West End runs (with an eighth on the way) since opening on Broadway in 1988 and continues to be one of the best loved musicals across the world. It features the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of outstanding dancers, singers, musicians and actors as they transform from star struck pupils to superstars.

First thing's first - this production has categorically rekindled my love affair with Fame. Dynamic, uplifting and bringing the staging straight into the 21st century, there is very little to say about this show that's not incredibly positive! The inclusion of a wall of yearbook photos made for an interesting take on the set - but for certain numbers, especially ‘These Are My Children’, also served as a beautifully poignant addition to the show.

And that positivity is only emphasised with one of the most perfectly put together casts I've seen in a long time. There was a lot of hype about our leads and there's always a concern that putting names on posters is a way to ensure bums on seats - but each and every member of our cast this evening was there on merit alone.

Keith Jack takes on the role of Nick, the slightly obsessive student who becomes the love interest of Serena (Molly McGuire). The chemistry between the pair of them is plain to see and serves to allow an audience to quickly realise they’re perfectly suited to the parts.

Best known for her time in Hollyoaks, Jorgie Porter excelled as Iris Kelly, showcasing a dance ability way beyond expectation. As crass as it sounds, you could be forgiven for making presumptions about soap stars taking to the stage - but those preconceptions are blasted out of the water when you watch Porter perform and realise she deserves her place on stage as much as anybody else in the cast.

Stephanie Rojas stars as Carmen - the character who’s storyline forms the mainstay of the piece and who sings THAT song at the end For me Rojas was one of the stand out performances of the night. Her voice is outstanding and her dancing captivating - without doubt someone we’ll see on stages around the country in years to come. In particular, her performance of ‘In LA’ was spellbinding and you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium. 

However, vocally, the star of the show is without doubt Mica Paris. Her beautiful, soulful voice was absolutely perfect for Miss Sherman's big belty numbers and the audience were left open mouthed after her rendition of 'These Are My Children', deservedly, brought the house down. Her years of practice showed as her effortless vocals filled the auditorium and took us on the full range of emotions.

Let’s put it bluntly. This production of Fame The Musical is simply a masterclass in musical theatre from start to finish. One of my favourite songs from the show - Bring On Tomorrow - was visually STUNNING, and I can’t emphasise that enough.

The harmonies, the instrumentation - everything about it was perfect and served to remind me why this show is such a special piece of theatre. I’ve had the pleasure of doing this theatre thing for a good few years and I’m in no doubt that this piece is well and truly in my top ten pieces of theatre - period.

Fame The Musical runs at The Alexandra until Saturday 24th November. For More information, or to get your tickets, head to atgtickets.com/birmingham.

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