After two years of success on-stage in London and touring throughout Europe, the musical Fame will launch a North American tour, beginning Sept. 8, 1998 at Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre.
Fame began in 1980 as a movie musical about students at New York's High School for the Performing Arts. It won two Academy Awards and in 1982 became a television series, running for six years. The television series has since been seen in 68 countries and a spin-off series, "Fame L.A.," is now in production.
The tour, which has been in development for seven years, will be directed and choreographed by Swedish star Lars Bethke, who directed successful productions of the musical in Sweden and a production currently touring Germany. Music for the stage production is by Steve Margoshes with lyrics by Jacques Levi and book by Jose Fernandez.
Along with Toronto, tentative tour stops include Montreal, Baltimore, Washington DC, Norfolk VA, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and Las Vegas. Dates and venues have not been set, but Susan Weaving with the William Morris Agency told Playbill On-Line that tickets will be sold as part of subscription series. She added, "If the North American production goes wild, maybe they'll come to New York." Extensive auditions will be held by next spring in New York and especially in Toronto, "because there is unbelievable talent in Toronto," Weaving said.
The stage musical premiered at Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse in 1988 and was later seen at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, but has never been presented on Broadway or as a U.S. national tour. Self-proclaimed "father Fame" David De Silva conceived the story of Fame and developed the musical. A major North American production has taken so long, he said, "because we ideally belong between Broadway and Off-Broadway. We can't set it up as a $75 ticket."
De Silva recently created the Father Fame Foundation and with it he hopes, "To present Fame every summer in New York City with New York City students." The proposed venue is the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center. If De Silva finds the sponsor he is looking for, Fame-fest could begin in August of 1999. "I want to be The Nutcracker in the summer," he said. What's most important to Da Silva, a former teacher, with this project, "is the education" it would give students, "I feel the time is right so that people are exposed to all levels of theatre arts."
Fame is currently on-stage around the world. The German tour, featuring an all-American cast, has already scheduled return engagements and is set to visit Milan, Vienna, Zurich and Paris. A Japanese production recently opened in Tokyo and a Polish production will open Oct. 18 in Radom with plans to tour for the next two years. A Spanish production will open Nov. 7 in Mexico City, then tour South America before winding up in Spain.
--By Laura MacDonald