I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
West End smash celebrates 30th anniversary
Three decades after its first appearance on the professional stage, Fame The Musical is still going strong and this 30th anniversary tour version, which is at Birmingham's Alexandra until November 24, is possibly the slickest yetpitch-perfectperfect sound and an imaginative set consisting of a backdrop of school yearbook-style photographs, the show is a treat for eyes and ears. And its cast fizzes with excitement and enthusiasm.
The headline 'names' are Keith Jack (runner-up on BBC's Any Dream Will Do) as Nick, the TV advert star who wants to be a serious actor; Jorgie Porter (Hollyoaks and Dancing on Ice) as Iris, the talented ballerina from a poor family; and soul singer Mica Paris as headteacher Miss Sherman. Mica gives a show-stopping performance of the song These Are My Children, but it is the non-household names in the cast who really catch the attention.
The show follows the trials, tribulations and triumphs of students at New York's School of Performing Arts, from auditions to graduation. Over the two hour running time we come to know them – and care about them, a tribute to both the bond the actors form with the audience and the book by Jose Fernandez. Stephanie Rojas as hyperactive Carmen Diaz is sensational. It would be too much of a spoiler to explain her story but let's just say we experience a full range of emotions, Her song In LA is a highlight.
Also impressive is Molly McGuire as Serena, the actress in love with Keith Jack's Nick. Her singing is spot-on and her character has a nice line in comedy. Humour comes to the fore when Albey Brookes, as wise-cracking Joe, is on stage. His adults-only solo song Can't Keep It Down, at the beginning of the show, prepares us for what to expect whenever Joe makes an appearance.
In the dance department, Jamal Crawford as Tyrone – who wants to perform but is not interested in the academic side of school life – is a terrific mover. And his rapping isn't bad either. He has an obvious rapport with dance partner Jorgie Porter, who is making her stage debut.
The standard of musicianship is astonishingly high. All the cast are great singers but there's the added bonus of the piano skills of Simon Anthony (as Schlomo), trumpeter Alexander Zane (making his professional debut as Goody), multi-instrumentalist Louisa Beadel (as Lambchops) and the smooth sax of Tom Mussel.
The audience was up and dancing at the end of the opening night show at The Alexandra. I think Fame The Musical may just live forever.