Perhaps it is going to live forever. Fame, the nine-lives musical which recently returned to the West End for a long-extended fourth run, will move from its perch at the Victoria Palace to an open run at the Cambridge Theatre.
The musical opened at the Victoria Palace Oct. 3, 2000 and extended past its March 3, 2001 original closing date to late September. The tuner will now start its open run at the Cambridge Sept. 20. Theatrical agent David de Silva, who conceived the "Fame" story in 1979, sold it to the movies but retained the stage rights, emailed Playbill On-Line to note that, "Fame is returning home. it originally opened at the Cambridge in june l995. the musical has been on the West End every season since then."
Fame has had quite a history ever since MGM released the 1980 Alan Parker movie starring Irene Cara, Laura Dean, Anne Meara, Debbie Allen and Richard Belzer, among others. "I always knew it would end up as a theatre piece," de Silva said in 1979. He set about developing the project when the TV series ended after six seasons 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. The U.S. tour is currently on hiatus but has plans to start up again in 2002-03. As ever, the cast 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."
The Runar Borge production of Fame first opened in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre in 1995, when it was nominated for two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and Best Choreography. Its last appearance in the capital was in 1998 at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Its current run at the Victoria Palace is its second at the venue, where it also played in 1997. In between West End engagements, Fame has been touring the country virtually non-stop. The original High School for the Performing Arts boasts an impressive list of graduates, including Liza Minnelli, Al Pacino, Suzanne Vega and Jerome Robbins. Its success has made it a model for a number of arts schools in Britain, including the Liverpool School for the Performing Arts founded by Paul McCartney. And the musical has inspired no end of crazes for leg-warmers and dancing on yellow taxis!
Fame has music by Steve Margoshes, lyrics by Jacques Levy and a book by Jose Fernandez. It is directed by Karen Bruce. The current cast features Rebekah Gibbs, Tee Jaye, Nicola Dawn, Robert Miller, Becky Hanks and Mazz Murray.
For further information, contact the Victoria Palace box office on 011-44-20-7834-1317.
— By David Lefkowitz,
and Willard Manus