REVIEW: Fame the Musical, a student's view

The Duchess's Community High School has been performing Fame the Musical to sell-out audiences at Alnwick Playhouse this week. With the show to finish tonight, fellow student GABRIEL BROWN gives his view of the performance.

Saturday, 11th March 2017, 9:32 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:11 am
The Duchess's Community High School in Fame the Musical at Alnwick Playhouse. Picture by Jane Coltman

It’s hard to say whether I prefer musicals or plays, as I generally have a minor disdain to the fact that almost every line in a musical requires someone to burst out into song, but then again that is the design of these sorts of productions.

Acting, as usual, was the range from good to great, and of course that includes the chorus.

I appreciate the little details where people in the background talk to each other, and perhaps my favourite little extra was when Joe Vegas (Jamie Mcintosh) kept flirting with and trying to hold a member of the chorus’ hand during a song sung by Isaac Ellis’ Nick Piazza.

My favourite character had to be Ethan Allan’s Mr Sheinkoff, who was probably the funniest, even when not speaking and merely conveying his hate for certain music through great facial expressions. It was him who delivered the line about dabbing I had heard about, as well as another 2016/2017 craze reference, which I will just about let them get away with purely because it was his character that said the line.

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Another funny character was Mabel Washington, played by Jenny Clapcott, whose humour came across a lot in her wanting to eat constantly, but on the whole her singing and acting were definitely good too.

Other favourable characters included Jack Clements, as Tyrone Jackson, and Oscar Wilson, as Schlomo Metzenbaum. The other teachers, acting teacher Mr Myers (Joe Benett), drama teacher Miss Bell (Ella Paul), and English teacher Miss Sherman, played by Sophie Murray, were all good, although I think Ella and Sophie shone more in their 1984 roles (perhaps dark madness is just my thing).

The best voice was probably Carmen’s, played by Emily Hardy. Her singing was definitely best, and her story was most tragic at its end, regardless of how long it took to unfold. Singing by everyone else was done well, and it took me 10 minutes or so to attune to everyone’s voice, although this is the same with all things for me.

I enjoyed all songs, an interesting choice was one regarding the particular habits of a teenage boy which, while I’m informed is in the original script, I’m still slightly wondering why it was included. A strange addition in my opinion.

My favourite musical number was the ‘greatest profession’ act, designed as a round. I liked how it all flowed and really enjoyed it. I did hear the ‘music profession’ part more, although perhaps this is due to where I was sat, being closer to that group. The band was great, and while not centre stage, they were in a good position and the music produced was all nice to listen too.

There were, however, as with any production, a couple of issues. The biggest one was when the microphones starting playing up, cutting off what seemed to be a quite important conversation between Miss Sherman and Miss Bell. They just about managed to make the song work, not held back due to singing ability, but simply the sound quality. Other than one line mess-up that I can recall and an instance where a dancer hit the stage (which I am told would have hurt even more due to the types of shoes worn), the play went without fault.

I still hold Rock Of Ages in high regard, and I think I do have to say I prefer it to Fame. That being said, I enjoyed this musical, and the commitment given and work that goes in from everyone, stretching from the actors to the lighting crew always shows.

I feel as if Fame maybe should have had a bit more of a balance of story and songs, as on occasion it felt like it just burst into song for the sake of it, whereas in ROA it felt necessary to the narrative.

I like when the productions delve into telling something, and it felt ever so slightly underwhelming in terms of this in the first half, although more focused in the second, enjoyable nonetheless.

Fame is a lively musical and I definitely enjoyed it.

l Fame The Musical ends its run at Alnwick Playhouse today. It is sold-out. To check for ticket returns, call the Playhouse on 01665 510785.