“Fame the Musical Jr.” with book by Jose Fernandez, lyrics by Jacques Levy and music by Steve Margoshes, directed by Michael Hartsfield and produced by Maureen Rogers, is presently playing at Laurel Mill Playhouse located on historic Main Street in Laurel, Maryland.
“Fame” was a popular movie and television show. “Fame – The Musical” soon followed. In “Fame the Musical Jr.” the story is still set at New York City’s High School of Performing Arts in the early 1980s. This High School chooses students in the performing arts who show ambition and drive in addition to their talent. This show examines these students and the time and effort they commit to excel in their area of expertise from admission until graduation.
‘Fame the Musical, Jr.’ will lighten up your summer. Get to Laurel Mill Playhouse and bring the kids.
The story focuses on three relationships. Carmen Diaz (Loraine Hamlett) and Schlomo Metzenbaum (Gavin Reardon) are two students. She is an aspiring star, and he is the son of a famous classical musician. Schlomo is the leader of a rock band. The two team together in the number “Bring on Tomorrow.” Diaz has a great deal of stage presence, and Reardon does a fine job as Schlomo.
Another couple is Nick Piazza (Ian Luk) and Serena Katz (Valentina Giuriola) two young hopeful actors who are attracted to each other. Nick sings “I Want to Make Magic” as he explains why he wants to be a real actor, not just a person who does commercials. Serena dreams of her fellow thespian, Nick, with “Let’s Play a Love Scene.” Luk and Giuriola have a great deal of chemistry and do a first-class performance in their respective solos.
The last two that are spotlighted are Iris Kelly (Carly Pometto) and Tyrone Jackson (Maxwell Coward). The two characters are dancers, but Kelly does well in academics while Tyrone grapples with a learning disability. Pometto’s dancing is graceful and polished. Coward conveys Tyrone’s struggles which he hides under a wise-guy exterior.
Other standouts are Carly Levender as Mabel Washington, Samantha Roberts as the English teacher, Miss Esther Sherman and Yvonna Smack as the dance teacher, Ms. Myers. Levender is adorable and funny as she sings “Mabel’s Prayer”. In this solo, Mabel decides she cannot give up eating for dance. Sherman and Smack perform well as the two teachers dealing with their concerns for their student, Jackson, in “The Teacher’s Agreement.”
The highlight of the night is, rightfully, the song “Fame” which is lead by Hamlett as Carmen. She is backed by a wonderful and talented group of young performers which include Anthony Alessandrini, Marleigh Amate, Regina Beach, Laila Brooks, Alexandra Brown, Jenna Campbell, Josephine Coward, Tabitha Dickson, Mark Eaton, Maggie Johnson, Max Johnson Delaney McGinniss, Victoria Simmons. Kayla Sterling, Zoe Taylor, Aeris Tepper, Kayla Tucker and Allie Wickline.
Under the fine direction of Hartsfield, these young actors’ enthusiasm becomes contagious. He manages to get everyone on stage and seem relaxed and natural.
Mimi McGinniss, Music Director, Brook Urquhart, Choreography and Meg Nemeth and Malarie Zeeks, Cabaret Choreography, deserve a special round of applause for giving all these talented youngsters a chance to shine.
After “Fame, the Musical, Jr.” is over and the actors take their bows, there is a brief intermission followed by these wonderful kids performing some of your favorite show tunes in a Cabaret. This gives them all a chance to showcase their talents and is great fun.
“Fame the Musical, Jr.” will lighten up your summer. Get to Laurel Mill Playhouse and bring the kids.
Running Time: One hour and forty-five minutes with an Intermission. (Note: The musical itself runs one hour.)
Note: Susan Brall has a theatrical connection with members of Laurel Mill Playhouse. It has not affected her review.