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[Special to the Times]
Cody Carlson, foreground, as Joe Vegas rehearses with fellow Fame cast members.

High energy makes Fame sparkle

By Barbara L. Fredricksen and Arts, Entertainment
May 10, 2008

If you could harness the energy on the Richey Suncoast Theatre stage during the musical Fame, you could run a nice-sized city for a week.

Though light on character development and plot, Fame is heavy on showcasing the area's abundant young talent. Kudos to director Marie Skelton, who gives many cast members a chance to shine and, as costumer, fits their clothes to their character.

Fame is the stories of the Class of 1984 at New York's High School for the Performing Arts, the last students to attend the celebrated school. The stories are snapshots, moving from one to another quickly, but they give a surprising amount of insight into the workings and personalities of the kids and teachers at the school.

There's shy Nick Piazza (Austin Ciliberti), who only wants to be a fine, serious actor (I Want to Make Magic), and Serena Katz (Caitlin Ramirez), who is more interested in Nick than in dramatics (Let's Play a Love Scene).

Then there are the teachers, who sometimes disagree about the main purpose of the school. This comes to a head when Ms. Bell (Joann Larson) and Miss Sherman (Heather Spillane) clash in the emotional Teachers' Argument: Should the talented Tyrone Jackson (Bobby Brandt) be allowed to let his academics slide because of his phenomenal dancing ability? It's a powerful moment, made more so by the women's terrific voices.

Break dancers Dayshawn Jeh and Jamal Jones add a nice touch of 1980s authenticity, as do several other featured dancers and the chorus.

Music director Stella Gaukhshteyn's orchestra is outstanding; stage manager Jim Poe and crew provide smooth scene and prop changes.

The enthusiasm and talent of the young cast members in Fame give great hope for the future of community theater in this area.


Fame , weekends through May 25 at Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey. Shows at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15. Box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (727) 842-6777.


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