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Fame lives on for Otumoetai students

Sarah Newland wasn't even born when Fame became a screen phenomenon.

Front, Nicolette Joubert, Sheree Marie. Back, Joseph Thompson, Sarah Newland, Michael Ralph.

But now she's playing a main part in the stage-musical alongside more than 50 other Otumoetai College teenagers who have taken on the iconic 1980s show for their annual production, Fame - the musical.

Fame has survived two decades and is still relevant to today's teens. The story was first an early 1980's television series which focused on the lives of students from the New York High School for the Performing Arts.

In the 1990s it was turned into a West End stage sensation living up to its "gonna live forever" theme. It explores emotional growth as the class of '84 strive to graduate while dealing with issues about relationships, prejudice, identity, self-worth, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

The Bay of Plenty Times met with the cast after their first dress rehearsal this week. And it's an all singing and dancing explosion of fun, according to the students.

Year 12 student Michael Ralph plays Tyrone, a charismatic dancer. "We're getting very excited as it gets closer. We had our first costume rehearsal this week and it made an instant buzz, it makes you feel like you are there."

The bittersweet but ultimately inspiring story follows a group of students as they commit to four years of grueling artistic and academic work.

For one of the lead characters, Mabel, played by Sarah Newland, a target to lose weight comes to the fore.

"It is about issues that effect teenagers today, it follows different relationships and issues. My character battles with being fat," Sarah said.

"These are issues that anyone can relate to and everyone has to deal with."

The 1980s - a hive of fondness for stretchy headbands, leather jackets and big hair - is the setting for these universal themes.

And if the costumes are anything to go by, it'll be a bright and lively evening out.

Full of dance, music, singing and colorful characters, Fame includes 55 on-stage performers, a band of 20 musicians and a backstage crew of 40.

* Fame - the musical, June 30-July 3. Tickets from Baycourt Theatre.


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