It’s been hard for me to write this review because I’ve been wrestling with my conscience; should I be honest about my experience at the first performance of Fame? Of course the answer is yes, and I am unhappy to report that this just didn’t do it for me.
I went into to musical expecting the characters to be engaged with one another. Isn’t Fame about teaching a bunch of students how to do just what the Showstoppers’ are attempting? But it just fell flat for me. I didn’t feel engaged, not when Tyrone’s (Tobi Dawodu) obvious dyslexia was uncovered, nor when (SPOILER) Carmen’s (Robyn Fryer) death occurred Both of those events should have rendered a strong emotional attachment but they just didn’t. I didn’t feel sorry for any of them and found the events forgettable.
Fame frustrated me. Not because there wasn’t talent. There was. Everywhere! It’s Showstoppers! But because they couldn’t get it. They couldn’t make it great, make it overly enjoyable. After weeks of rehearsals, they seemed disconnected from each other, didn’t seem to feel what they were saying, and seemed, like me, to be waiting for them to sing either ‘Fame’ or ‘Remember Me’.
I have to say that there were stand out performances and it did get slightly better towards the middle, and there were those few whose talent over-shined the others. They were: the teachers, the dancers and the band. Whoever said ‘if you can’t do, teach’, obviously never met this acting, singing duo. Emma Bryant and Amy Fitzgibbon blew me away with ‘Teacher’s Argument’ and Amy again with ‘These Are My Children’. Those songs connected. Those few precious minutes on stage made me sit up more and listen. It was wonderful. Then, there were the dancers. Only one truly stood out for me and that was Stacey Barnett who played Iris. Her dances made everyone look at her, even when they were meant to be focusing on all of the characters. Finally, the band. They seemed to know what they were doing, they made sure every song was in time, and played well. It was nice to be able to see them as well. It made for a few entertaining moments, and allowed for some of the characters who were multitasking to come down from the music stand and get to the stage in enough time.
Overall, as you can tell, I didn’t enjoy Fame. It had its moments, but it won’t be one I’ll go to see again. I feel like I should apologise but then I remember that Tyrone didn’t apologise for his use of the N word which was completely unnecessary and made me roll my eyes. Angry black man, obviously he should say that word in front of his English teacher right? Wrong. It’s just fitting to stereotypes and wasn’t needed. It made me more angry than allowing me to enjoy the musical.
I could go on about the little things which annoyed me but I won’t. That would create too many spoilers to how the show was set and performed. You might have felt differently; I was viewing it on the first night. It did have potential buried under some unformed accents which left you wondering if a character was English or American.
Fame is on tonight in The Annex Theatre at 7:30. Tickets have been reserved so get there early to avoid disappointment.