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Fame: The Musical
May 2010, Regent Theatre, Melbourne

Closing on 13 June 2010, Fame will not live forever - at least not on the stage of Melbourne's Regent Theatre. However, it will certainly stay in the minds of its audience members. Produced by John Frost and directed and choreographed by Kelley Abbey, Fame: the Musical certainly does justice to the much-loved 1980 film and the consequent long-running television series.

Not only are the characters in the play striving for ever-elusive fame, it would seem the actors are too. Featuring eight past contestants of So You Think You Can Dance Australia , it is clear that all the young cast are vying for a career on the stage.

Starring Talia Fowler as Iris Kelly, Tim Omaji (commonly known as Timomatic) as Tyrone Jackson and Rowena Vilar as Carmen Diaz, it was wonderful to see that the performers could both sing and dance.

The story is centred around the class of 1984 at New York's High School for the Performing Arts. Each character has their own insecurities and aspirations which come to be revealed. Catherine Shepherd plays the ever-so-socially-awkward character of Serena Katz, who is besotted with Nick Piazza. In classical musical theatre style, Shepherd captures Katz's uncomfortably kooky nature perfectly.

The selling point of the show is certainly Kelly Abbey's dance numbers. The opening of the second act was spectacular. It offered a fusion of dance styles including an Argentine tango that left the audience spellbound, but not unable to cheer.

Highlighting Abbey's remarkable versatility as a choreographer, the show featured an incredible array of styles that would leave any dance lover pleased.

From the grace of Fowler's technical ballet routines to Timomatic's sharp hip-hop, the performers were able to showcase their talents. Abbey even incorporated the athleticism of past So You Think You Can Dance contestants Marco Panzic and Stephen Tannos by making good use of their acrobatic ability.

As well as impressive dancing, the singing of Darlene Love as Miss Sherman and Rebecca Jackson Mendoza as Miss Bell awakened the audience in the first crowd rousing moment of the night.

In what could only be considered a battle of voices, Love and Mendoza's perfectly pitched voices radiated throughout the Regent Theatre during the Teachers Argument. Also notable were the voices of Catherine Shepherd and Jaz Flowers, who played Mabel Washington.

In a show that had many highs, there were still a few lows. In what should have been one of the funniest moments of the show, Sam Ludeman missed the mark with the song "Can't Keep it Down". Equally, while no one can doubt Fowler's talent as a dancer, her stage presence was lacking.

Despite these flaws, I was still praying for the person sitting in front of me to be a head shorter so that I wouldn't miss a moment of the show. The closing number, a reprise of "Fame", was one of the best. On equal par with the Argentine tango, it made me hesitant to leave, hoping that the cast would come out once more and just keep on singing.

You know you've been witness to a great production when as soon as it's over you want to go again.

4 stars out of 5.



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