Since the early 1980s, the story of “Fame” has been told and retold in multiple forms: as a feature film, a six-season television series, and a Broadway musical. The decades-old beloved hit is back again in its most recent iteration, a bilingual Spanish and English version of “Fame” for a new generation.
‘Fame’ is a demanding show in that it requires a cast of performers who are equally adept at dancing, singing, and acting. The GALA cast meets this challenge with energy, style, and ease.
“Fame” follows the highs and lows of students at New York City’s celebrated School for the Performing Arts. From audition to graduation, these talented and ambitious kids negotiate the unforgiving world of the performing arts, some battling with teachers, others painful circumstances, and in some cases, the inner demons that stand between them and their dreams.
“Fame” is a demanding show in that it requires a cast of performers who are equally adept at dancing, singing, and acting. The GALA cast meets this challenge with energy, style, and ease.
Stand-out performers include Romainson Romain (Tyrone Jackson) whose dancing channeled the spirit of Gene Anthony Ray, the “Tyrone” this writer grew up watching on Saturday night television episodes of “Fame,” and Alana Thomas (Mabel Washington) whose thrilling soprano shined both in “Mabel’s Prayer” and during ensemble pieces. Of course, Paula Calvo (Carmen Diaz) brought down the house the moment she began to sing those familiar lyrics, “I’m gonna live forever…”
Other notable performances include those of the school’s committed English teacher, Susan Oliveras (Ms. Sherman), and dance teacher Teresa Quigley Danskey (Ms. Bell), who delivered a dramatic duet “The Teacher’s Argument” in which the two engage in a heated debate about the value of students’ artistic development versus the importance of a general education.
For the backdrop, scenic designer Clifton Chadwick used a wall of lockers that, if not a universal symbol of high school is certainly a typically American one. Surtitle screens erected on both sides of the stage allowed monolingual audience members to follow the entire story.
The curtain closes with a reprise of the song “Bring on Tomorrow,” the words of which “We will find out/Are we really strong enough/To fulfill what the future demands,” might hold the key to Fame’s enduring popularity. The show has invited generations of audiences to relive that moment when we each stand alone on the precipice of adulthood with big dreams and the youthful conviction that we really can “live forever.”
Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes including one 15-minute intermission.
“Fame the Musical” runs through June 9 at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20010. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.