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Home > Reviews > Who Wants To Live Forever?

by Charles Hutchinsonclick to see review scan

Fame, The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, until Saturday

Remember that email from Prince Charles berating a child-centered education system where too many youngsters believed they could succeed without having the talent or being prepared to work?

Those children would never find a place at the Fame school, alias New York's High School For The Performing Arts. Yes, the famous tutle song says: "I'm gonna live forever," but more crucially, "I'm gonna learn how to fly".

As early as the second musical number, the new students are extolling the virtues of Hard Work.

Yet Michael Howell's Nick Piazza promptly sings of how I Want To Make Magic, and so it is this combination of graft and ambition, dreams and bleeding toes that makes David De Silva's ebullient musical such an enduring success.

Fame has the youthful energy that drives West Side Story and Rent. It is a teenage rush of a musical drama.

All manner of New York young talent is here, each with an inner demon or colourful character tick. The rebellious dude Tyrone Jackson (William Peaco Jr last night, dancing lithely as understudy for Craig Stein) has dancing telent to burn, but is hamstrung by academic failure. Lisa Ritchie's dancing queen, Iris Kelly, is the rich daddy's girl in need of humility; Rachel Hale's guache Serena Katz is obsessively driven.

Big cheers go to Deila Harris's food-loving Mabel Washington, giving a suitably well-rounded performance of defiance as she wins hearts in her game refusal to slim down. Bigger cheers and bags of laughter come the way of James Haggie's Puerto Rican jack-in-a-box Joe Vegas, who he plays with delicious sauce.

Best of all is Leila Benn Harris's drug-addicted Carmen Diaz, determined to Bring On Tomorrow today and destined not to love forever, in a performance as hot and hot-headed as Bizet's Carmen. Feel the heat!


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