REVIEW: Fame, Sunderland Empire

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A CAST with electric enthusiasm brings Fame bang up-to-date.

The new production from director Gary Lloyd keeps the essence of the 80’s smash-hit film, but drags the show into the 21st century with mobile phones, street dancing and references to chart-topping pop stars.

The fast-paced affair, which alludes to Fame the film, delves into racial conflict, drug abuse, the cut-throat world of show business and adolescence, which make for sometimes gripping viewing.

An ongoing conflict between English teacher Miss Sherman (Landi Oshinowo) and Miss Bell (Hermione Lynch) also highlights a stage school struggle between academic studies, and the dream of fame and fortune.

Packed full of songs including Let’s Play a Love Scene and the unforgettable Fame, talented youngsters, who exude attitude and excitement, create funny, relatable characters who pay homage to the originals, and the directors’ desire to give this version of Fame its own identity.

Jodie Steele is intense as tormented siren Carmen Diaz (the updated role of Cara). Fit and fierce in her dance moves, she also successfully holds a tune.

However Alex Thomas steals the show with his beautiful ballet, edgy street dancing and budding rap skills.

The set, based on a never-ending staircase to represent the performer’s life, depicts interiors of the school, and the streets of NYC. Laser lights and extra speakers help to raise the volume, and the atmosphere, too.

The only gripe is the encore. Carmen belts out a version of Fame, with bursts of: “You look hot, show me what you’ve got,” which is just too much. Maybe it’s popular with youngsters, but not for older people who can remember the film.

The lack of an iconic New York City taxi cab is also wholly disappointing.

Monica Turnbull