Tuesday, 2 October 2018

REVIEW: Fame the Musical at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

A staple on stage, screen and Walkman’s since the 80s, Fame is the classic story of hope, ambition and showbiz with a sprinkling of love for good measure. 

This production starts slowly and with a few technical wobbles, but a strong and energetic ensemble picks this production up with Morgan Jackson and Tom Mussel particularly impressing. 

The set design is relatively simple and static but allows the large cast plenty of space for some expansive choreography. The actor/muso device utilised some talented performers, namely Alexander Zane (Goody) and Simon Anthony (Schlomo), but it wasn’t always clear when the music was full band or the on stage musicians.

Jorgie Porter shows there’s much more to her than starring in a Soap and demonstrates some beautiful dance moves as budding ballet dancer Iris. Her relationship with dyslexic Tyrone (played by Jamal Kane Crawford) is the most fully formed of all the love interests and there seems a real, genuine connection between the two performers. Crawford is imposing and vulnerable in equal measure and deserves all the whoops and cheers from the female audience.

Stephanie Rojas is a great Carmen; showing her as supremely talented but unable to channel her ambitions and escape the pitfalls of fame. Rojas’s vocal in act two during “In L.A” is exquisite and stuns the audience to silence. It’s a shame her death is off-stage and the relationship between Carmen and Schlomo feels underdeveloped and rushed. 

Mica Paris feels underused during act one, but delivers the vocal performance of the show with “These Are My Children”. Her voice is rich and deep and it’s a shame she wasn’t given more opportunities to shine.

Generally the relationships and story felt a little weak and in need of fleshing out. It wasn’t really clear who the lead character was (Tyrone perhaps?) and because of this was hard to truly care about the characters enough to go on a journey with them. The performances were all strong (so you persevered) but more complex, believable relationships would have given this show more impact.

Plot wise, the death of Carmen aside, nothing really happens to any of the characters – we don’t see any jeopardy, growth or even see if any of the hopefuls make it so Nick Winston’s production is enjoyable but two dimensional. 

Overall, Fame is an enjoyable show with good all round performances, vibrant choreography and a couple of knock-out moments. With some development to the book, this could be a really strong production.

Review by Andy Edmeads

Rating: ★★★
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