FAME THE MUSICAL @ Crown Theatre gets 7/10

FAME the Musical
@ Crown Theatre

Saturday, April 16, 2022


Attention class! Welcome to the New York School of Performing Arts….the FAME school.

This unique school celebrating the Arts and creativity has arrived at Crown Theatre with a spectacular opening night of FAME the Musical, on Saturday, April 16, for just a one-week season. Closing night is Sunday, April 24 so don’t hesitate. There are also plenty of matinee performances for the second week of school holidays.

The highlight of this show is the dance sequences, and MVP must go to the choreographer Dani Papa. These numbers were big, fast and complex, with a large ensemble cast not missing a step. Heavily inspired by both ballet and hip hop, the dance numbers were high energy examples of incredible WA dance talent. As they debate in song, “Dance is the hardest profession in the world – Hard Work!,” and work hard this ensemble certainly did!

While very much an ensemble show with no single lead, certain performers did stand out.

The two female teachers, Ms Sherman (Lucy Williamson) and Ms Bell (Mia Simonette) were a level above everyone with their singing and character portrayal. Ms Bell pleading her case for Tyrone and Ms Sherman confessing her passion for teaching in “These are my children” resonate beautifully, both in song and emotion. Similar applause goes to Elaina O’Connor as Serena Katz, the shy geeky girl who learns to express herself. The role was very well acted with outstanding vocals, especially in her passionate rendition of Think of Meryl Streep.

Tyrone, played by G. Madison IV, dominated the stage with his muscular build and fluid hip hop dance, best displayed in his song Dancing on the Sidewalk. Props again to the choreographer Dani Papa for the clever use of old school desks.

However modern audiences may not warm to the slow pace of Tyrone’s rap. While true to the score, the beat felt overly simplified for ears tuned to hip hop (or Hamilton). If played in double time the rap would feel like an accomplishment and display of Tyrone’s skill, rather than a nursery rhyme.

The acting stood out with three male performers, Greg Jamera, Isaac Diamond, and James Bell, playing Schlomo, Nick and Joe respectively. While they weren’t the strongest singers on the night, Nick felt honest, Schlomo vulnerable, and Joe – hilarious!

With every scene bar one set inside the school walls, there wasn’t much opportunity for grand set design, however the simple set was well thought through. Everything from the lockers to the wooden school desks will immediately send you back to high school…or at least the high school from an American sitcom.

The band were also outstanding and it was great to see them play onstage rather than hidden in the pit. Although it was disappointing they didn’t cast actors who could play their own instruments for characters who were supposedly in a band at a music school.

HAMA productions are doing their best to create quality musical theatre in WA, and while this reviewer certainly applauds their goal and efforts, and encourages everyone to attend WA theatre works, there is still a way to go before you can call yourself “international standard.” Small things – like multiple spelling and grammar errors in the programme felt a bit “amateur.” It just missed a layer of gloss and polish that you expect when attending musicals at Crown Theatre.

From the opening line “I pray that I make P.A.”, it just felt too quiet, like their voices were too small for the grand space. For a while you may think it’s an error of the sound engineer, but then Ms Bell and Ms Sherman duel in duet, and you realise it is not a weakness of the microphones. While the acting and dance were great, musical theatre is known as the triple threat. Without the vocal leg of the tripod, it lets itself fall. A double threat just doesn’t cut it.


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