Fame the Musical has been around a long old time. 30 years in fact – the same amount of time that I’ve been on this planet. And embarrassingly, up until now I’d never seen it – musical or its movie predecessor. Of course, I listen to enough Absolute 80s to know all the words to the Irene Cara classic hit, but other than that, my knowledge of Fame and the story behind it was minimal.
(I did think I’d seen the film but it turns out I’d seen Footloose – not the same, it turns out.)
Anyway, thankfully this week I was able to receive an education in all things Fame related, because until Saturday the musical is gracing the stage of The Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells, and last night I was lucky enough to see the musical come alive.
For those of you unfamiliar with the storyline (or who think they know it, but are actually thinking of Footloose, Flashdance, Dirty Dancing or any other awesome 80s musical), Fame tells the story of a group of students at a performing arts academy in New York as they navigate the highs and lows of adolescent life. There’s sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – but also ballet dancing, a bit of rapping and some tinsel-covered trumpets (not a euphemism).
The show is high-energy with spectacular singing and dancing – and an obscene amount of toned bodies, who made me almost think twice about the enormous bag of chocolate buttons I feasted on during the performance – almost.
Kudos to the casting director for a brilliant cast too – former Hollyoaks actress Jorgie Porter was excellent as Iris, with a surprisingly good American accent, and musical theatre pro Mica Paris who plays the indefatigable was incredible – What. A. Voice.
But for me, the real stand-out of the night was Carmen, played by Stephanie Rojas, who was just amazing – the singing, dancing and emotion was captivating, and Carmen’s story haunted me long after we’d left the theatre.
So, if you want a fun, feel-good night out with plenty of spirit, The Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells is where you need to head this week. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Well, you might be a bit disappointed you don’t have abs of steel and Strictly-worthy dance moves, but have a few chocolate buttons and forget about it…
Fame The Musical is on at The Assembly Hall Theatre until Saturday August 25. www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk