Culture Writer Frankie Rhodes reviews a moving touring production of Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Spendid SunsWritten by Frankie Rhodes on 17th May 2019
Review: Fame at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
Culture Writer Sophia Donnelly reviews the 30th-anniversary tour of Fame at the Alexandra Theatre
Based on the 1980 pop culture film, the international smash hit sensation Fame The Musical has made it to The Alexandra in Birmingham, following the highs and lows of the starry eyed students of New York’s High School For The Performing Arts.
Featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of phenomenal dancers, singers, actors and even musicians, the UK Tour of Fame The Musical provides a wholly enjoyable night at the theatre.
“'Featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of phenomenal dancers, singers, actors and even musicians, the UK Tour of Fame The Musical provides a wholly enjoyable night at the theatre.'
There is no denying that Jose Fernandez’s script is slightly limiting in its attempt to follow such a large number of characters. The first half is rather bitty and fragmented which doesn’t allow for substantial character development, often meaning that characters appear as embodiments of stereotypes rather than complex individuals. The second half on the other hand does delve deeper into the complexities of a couple of characters, although the impact would be greater if character development had begun earlier within the narrative.
Despite the limitations within the script, Nick Winston’s adaptation is remarkable with slick and creative direction and choreography, emphasizing more of a focus on performance than plot. The multitalented cast execute the performance impressively well, with Simon Anthony, Alexander Zane and Louisa Beadel particularly impressing with their ability to not only act, sing and dance onstage but to play musical instruments as well.
Other notable performances were Jorgie Porter’s Iris, Jamal Crawford’s Tyrone and Molly McGuire’s Serena, though the two performers who stole the show were Stephanie Rojas for her strong performance as Carmen with a particularly harrowing rendition of ‘In L.A.’ and Mica Paris for her show stopping vocals as Miss Sherman in ‘These Are My Children’.
“'Nick Winston’s adaptation is remarkable with slick and creative direction and choreography, emphasizing more of a focus on performance than plot.'
Hayley Johnston also gave an incredible performance of ‘Mabel’s Prayer’. Mabel is presented as being larger than some of the other dancers, with references to her ‘back pain’ and ‘sweaty bits’, and these are likely intended to highlight the strict and perhaps unrealistic physical standards dancers are expected to achieve within the performance industry. I worry, though, that more should then be done to ensure that jokes about Mabel eating too much at a healthy and average weight do not have the unintended consequence of negatively impacting the body image of young audience members.
There were a few sound related technical issues with microphones not always being turned on at the right time, however, this was the first night at a new venue, and all technical problems were resolved promptly so did not detract too much from the performance.
Despite a limiting script and a few minor technical issues, the talented cast managed to execute the performance impressively well, ending with the audience up on their feet dancing and singing along to the title song.