Review: Fame the Musical at the Bristol Hippodrome, May 2014

Fame the Musical (pic Hugo Glendinning)

Fame the Musical (pic Hugo Glendinning)

First published in Theatre Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , arts and what's on editor

BEING one of the original ‘Fame’ generation, there was a lot to look forward to when ‘Fame the Musical’ came to the Bristol Hippodrome for a week-long run on Monday.

This new, updated version of the show had all the adrenaline-fuelled ingredients of the original - the only thing missing was the legwarmers! – but, although it hurts to say it, the message of ‘you won’t get anywhere without hard work’ seems slightly outdated in this brave new world of reality TV and cult of celebrity.

The show is busy from the start, as would-be students at the New York School of Performing Arts jostle for position both in the school and on stage, and this is very much how it continues; the struggle to squeeze in the stories of so many lives in such a short time leaves you feel ever so slightly cheated, with many of the characters remaining unexplored. Too many issues are tackled in too little depth.

The set itself seems quite clumsy and clunky, but in many ways that is unimportant as for the majority in the audience this show was all about the singing and dancing - and ‘Fame’ is about as tightly choreographed as you could expect.

Plaudits must go to Alex Thomas, in the role of Tyrone Jackson, the illiterate (or perhaps dyslexic) student whose dance moves outshone any other on stage, and Molly Stewart, the dancer with weight issues whose comedy input served as essential light relief. Landi Oshinowo also deserves a mention as the strict English teacher with the voice of an angel, although it has to be said that all the performers, who themselves have worked hard to get through stage school, did well on the night.

Prehaps Fame doesn’t feel as fresh as it did back when it premiered in 1988, but hey, it’s not the eighties any more. However, if you want a really fabulous feel-good musical with lots of fantastic singing and dancing, then you can’t go far wrong.

Fame the Musical is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, May 31. (Suitable for ages 12+)

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