It was a hit motion picture, then a successful TV series, and now it's a stage production, a full-blown musical with book by Joe Fernandez, lyrics by Jacques Levy and music by Steve Margoshes, and it's coming to the Pantages Theatre Nov. 23 for a two-week run. Lars Bethke is the director and choreographer.
Fame has had quite a history ever since MGM released the 1980 movie starring Irene Cara, Laura Dean, Anne Meara, Debbie Allen and Richard Belzer, among others. That the property is still alive today is due to the foresight of David De Silva, who conceived the idea back in 1979. Da Silva, a theatrical agent, sold the screen rights to "Fame," but retained the stage rights for himself.
"I always knew it would end up as a theatre piece," he said. He set about developing the project when the TV series ended in 1987. The musical was first staged in Florida, then in Philadelphia in 1990. The show never did reach New York, but that didn't stop Fame's forward progress. It was produced in Sweden, England and many other countries. Now it's on tour around the USA, with a cast that features young performers and no stars.
"For many of these kids it's their first job. They don't even have agents," De Silva said. "The show emphasizes ensemble dance numbers."
Fame--The Musical focuses on the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a group of students attending New York's High School of Performing Arts. It chronicles their four-year odyssey from audition to graduation at the school whose unofficial motto is "Fame costs, and this is where you start paying."Through Dec. 5 at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd. For tickets and information call (213) 365-3500.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent