'BBC BIRMINGHAM WEBSITE' - 2005 (Review by Clive Fuller)
I went along to the opening of one of the most popular musicals of the last 20 years “Fame”. Set in New York during 1980-1984, it captures the hopes and aspirations of a group of young, talented and sometimes challenged individuals. The idea of a musical set around a dance school has certainly captured the imagination of so many audiences and it appeals to all ages and last night they clearly enjoyed every bit of the show.
Originally the idea of David de Silva and based on the book by Jose Fernandez with lyrics by Jacques Levy and music by Steve Margoshes, this touring production is directed by Dawn Buckland. The musical numbers are excellent and the choreography eye catching.
Barbara Dickson who has been associated with so many musicals heads this latest tour. She plays the role of Miss Sherman the English teacher who is not going to let any of her pupils flunk without consequences. She has two good songs, “The Teacher’s Argument” and “These are My Children”.
Setting the theme of the musical in his first vocal Michael Howell as the former daytime soap star Nick sings “I Want To Make Magic” and in many ways that is what the story is about. His performance is strong and compelling.
Craig Stein is excellent as Tyrone, the naturally talented dancer of the class whose reading is only at fifth grade and who runs up against Miss Sherman who won’t pass him just because he has talent, he has to read as well. This major role is handled expertly and needless to say it was his somersaults and dancing skill that brought the house down in the finale.
Rachel Hale is well cast as Serena whose romantic interest in Nick is clear from the outset and together they perform “Lets play a Love Scene” exploring their love for each other although it seems feted at the start. Dawn Buckland is believable as the teacher who sees through the teenage bravado of Tyrone to the ability that lies underneath.
Musical director Richard Beale keeps the pace going and the tempo just right and the musicians really blow their tops in the finale, just what the audience liked.
As with all musicals this is a team effort in which everyone plays their part right from the start and whilst we might all have been waiting for “Fame” to be sung everything else just adds to the general buzz of the evening and there can be no doubting that almost 20 years on this musical is still filling seats and pleasing its audience.
'LIVERPOOL ECHO' - 2004
Mention "Fame" and a show full of energy, enthusiastic cast members and skilful dance routines comes to mind. The musical version of the film/TV show, premiered in the West End eight years ago, opened at the Liverpool Empire last night and obviously the cast could dance. But there was nothing particularly outstanding in the show -- except, of course, of Barbara Dickson.
In the main role of Tyrone Jackson was Craig Stein, a hit with many of last night's audience with squeals and cheers from the teenagers...
The real star was Barbara Dickson, who never disappoints. In the role of teacher Miss Sherman, her outstanding voice and fault-free performance put some of the other actors and actresses in the shadows.