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'Fame Forever' ..

"Fame Forever" seems an obvious successor to "Fame: The Musical," which was set in a performing arts high school. A 20-year reunion provides a natural setting for a sequel, with some of the offspring of the class of 1984 now attending LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts (known as P.A.).....

The musical turns on the theme of the circle of life, as Carmen Diaz, one of the more troubled members of the class of 1984, finds herself guided through the afterlife by a fellow P.A. alum (Elex Bornett). Carmen (Danielle White, showing a giddy sense of wonder) is given a chance to see how her life influenced those of her classmates as they gather for their 20th reunion.

Those classmates include Serena, now an English teacher at the school; Joe and Mabel, TV station co-workers and friendly rivals; professional dancer Tyrone and his high school partner, Iris; musical whiz Schlomo; and Nick, a successful TV actor.

The high school rivalries and love affairs of the previous generation play out again in the class of 2004, as Joe and Mabel's daughters (Geena M. Ravella and Ashleigh Tokarz) compete for the part of Maria in "West Side Story" and make the same judgment errors their parents did.

Noelia Altamiramo as Mabel Washington turns out to be the surprise star, with a huge voice and a megawatt smile. Her pairing with Tokarz as her daughter, Georgia, is particularly sweet in "On the Other Hand," .......

The .. best high school flame chemistry comes from Jahrel Thompson and Tahlia Byers as Tyrone and Iris. Their dancing sizzling hot, as is much of the dancing throughout the show, which is tightly Thomas Dewayne Barrett.

A more poignant unrequited love theme plays out between Garie Jean Williams and Nidal Zarour as Serena and Nick. Their e-mail conversation in "Dear Nick/Dear Serena" is charming and well-played.

It would give away too much of the plot to say what role Brandon Reid plays; suffice to say that the 9-year-old tap-dancing whiz practically makes off with the show...

. A coda that sends all the characters another 10 years down the road leads to a whiz-bang finale that will (unfortunately for the otherwise-appealing music in the new show) send the audience out the door with the theme from "Fame" in their heads.

David Walker's costumes are best in their dancewear mode, and the show's all-white finale is especially eye-catching.
Last modified: September 29. 2007



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