Review: 'Fame The Musical' at New Wimbledon Theatre
'Fame' the musical is living forever in Wimbledon - well, at least until Saturday when the 30th anniversary show leaves town to head north for Inverness.
Those who grew up with the hit US TV series, which followed the 1980 film, will not need reminding of the plot. But it can be summed up quite concisely, as it follows the ups and downs of a group of students attending the New York High School of Performing Arts.
Fellow children of the 80s might be surprised to find the characters all have unfamiliar names, but most of them actually have very similar roles to those protrayed in the TV series.
This show is all about the performances and they don't really warm up until the second half. The opening hour introduces the characters after they pass their auditions and start at the school, which is called 'PA' for short.
It's the impressive set which catches the eye at first, with a backdrop of High School yearbook photos and lighting evocative of the 1980s disco scene.
While the first act is packed with dancing and music, none of it is particularly memorable. But the post-interval performance is a different story.
The highlight of the show is the powerful rendition of 'These Are My Children' by soul singer Mica Paris, who is brilliantly cast as headteacher Miss Sherman. Her breath-taking version of the song, coupled with a fast-moving version of 'Fame' ('I want to live forever....') by most of the cast, were worth the ticket money on their own.
There's also a bit of humour in the second act, and the personality of each of the characters is laid bare. Special mention must go to Albey Brookes, for his exuberant portrayal of Joe.
While the show is at New Wimbledon Theatre over half-term, there are aspects of the production that might not be suitable for younger ears and eyes. But it's these moments that draw laughter from the adults in the audience.
It's always a positive sign when a musical ends with the audience standing up to join in with the dancing - and very few remained in their seats for the final number of this performance.
By Sue Choularton
February 20, 2019