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IWCC opens ‘Fame: The Musical’ at Arts Center

“Fame: The Musical” opens tonight at the Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College.
November 8, 2012
By Kim Bousquet

A diverse group of talented students studying at the New York School of the Performing Arts populate the musical that opens tonight at the Arts Center at Iowa Western Community College. The large group of students of “Fame: The Musical” work on their craft, support and respect each other, and grow as artists.

It’s not unlike what’s happening in the cast that will perform the show.

Director Moira Mangiameli has assembled what she calls a terrific cast, and as she talked about the 24 students in the show, she threw around words like “happy,” “calm” and “proud.”

“They’re super respectful of each other,” she said. “They’re so proud of this show.”

Iowa Western Community College Department of Theatre presents “Fame: The Musical” through special arrangement with Musical Theatre International tonight through Nov. 17.

The students have a lot to be proud of. The school doesn’t have a dance department so putting on a show that is so dance centric was a challenge. That’s where Roxanne Nielsen comes into play.

Mangiameli credited the choreographer for helping non-dancers look like dancers for the show. Nielsen has years of experience in the area’s theater community, most notably choreographing shows at the Omaha Community Playhouse and she’s the art director at The ARTery in Omaha.

“The kids have been challenged,” said Mangiameli. “They look great.”

Fans of the “Fame” movies or TV show will be disappointed if they expect to see a replica of them on stage. “Fame: The Musical” – with the book by Jose Fernandez, lyrics by Jacques Levy, and music by Steve Margoshes – shares only the basic plot line with them, and one song (“Fame,” naturally).

“The play is really different,” said Mangiameli. “The message is sort of the same, but all of the songs are different … and the character names are different.”

The play still explores weighty issues, such as prejudice, self-worth, illiteracy, sexuality, and drug abuse. They’re issues that resonate with the young actors on stage, and perhaps youth in the audience. The director suggested with its adult themes and some adult language, the show isn’t for younger viewers. High schoolers will like it, though.

“Fame” is essentially an ensemble cast. Some of the leads include Jordan Rudningen (Nick), Kate Madsen (Carmen), Dailen Cowden (Schlomo), Ro Allen (Tyrone) and Sarah Britson (Serena). The large cast hails from all around the region, including several from Council Bluffs – Britson, Madsen, Kasey Cartwright, Trevor Daniels, Meghan Hug and Steven Kilme. Some of the southwest Iowa students include Randi Fiessen of Avoca; Jeana Jago of Clarinda; Brandy Howell of Glenwood; Stephanie Parris of Red Oak; Caleb James and Lance Mattize of Shenandoah; and Chistopher Beeman of Woodbine. Other cast members are Kelsi Weston, Michael Kociolek, Bekki Kniep, Savanna Collings, Whitley Wilburn, Stephan Miller, Alexandria Anderson, Blair Chambers, Alisha Knox and Garrett Palensky.

“Fame: The Musical” is presented tonight through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Nov. 17 on the Main Stage of the Arts Center. To reserve tickets, call the Arts Center box office at (712) 388-7140.


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