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Review: FAME the Musical at the Arts Theatre

FAME is a stage musical based on the 1980 film of the same name, conceived and developed by David De Silva. With book by Jose Fernandez, music by Steve Margoshes and lyrics by Jacques Levy, FAME follows the lives of several students who attend New York City’s High School of Performing Arts from their first year in 1980 to their graduation in 1984.

The musical is significantly rewritten from film and television adaptations, with an almost entirely new score, except for the title Academy Award-winning song ‘Fame’.

This full-length production is brought to life by the wonderful team from Adelaide Youth Theatre – brilliant training ground for young people in the arts.

A triple threat dance major, sassy, confident and determined to make it in the big smoke Carmen Diaz, was portrayed with believability by Paige Tran. Her swan song ‘In LA’ displayed sincere vulnerability beyond her years.

The intelligent but serious classical actor, Nick Piazza, was played by Jack Keukenmeester. With a secret romantic interest in Serena, Keukenmeester was authentic and genuine in his portrayal.

As the shy, nerdy but very talented Serena Katz, Kiara Linke absolutely shines, especially in her song ‘Think of Meryl Streep’. With her honest and charming voice, and sensational belting tone, Linke once again proves to be destined for a career in the theatre.

Bridget Tran is hilarious as the bouncy, ditzy and food-obsessed Mabel Washington, and her starring number ‘Mabel’s Prayer’ really had the audience in the palm of her hand.

Callum Logan as the pious classical violinist Schlomo Metzenbaum, brings a real and unfeigned perspective to his character. While the musical does not give a lot of time for character development, Logan took us on an emotional journey while trying to win over Carmen. His leading of the number ‘Bring on Tomorrow’ was heartfelt and affecting.

Summa Arrizza and Henry Tran as Lambchops and Goody King respectively rounded out the rest of Schlomo’s rock band nicely with their antics and love-hate friendship.

As young Jack Zakowski, the dyslexic hip hop dancer, Mason Pugh had the moves and the dramatic chops. His stormy relationship with ballet dancer Iris, coolly played by Anna Oldfield, culminates in a beautiful ‘Pas De Deux’ scene in Act Two.

Asher Gordon as Joe Vegas, the bad boy Spanish drama student, is hilarious, stealing every scene. His moves and acting prowess, especially in his notable number ‘Cant Keep it Down’, is 100% energy every time he steps on stage!

Excellent work by the ensemble – flipping and dancing with the vigour reminiscent of the 80s!

The standout number for me was ‘Teacher’s Argument’ sung incredibly by Amber Fibrosi as protective dance teacher Miss Bell and Marley Banham as stern English teacher Miss Sherman. Their voices reverberating through the theatre in what can only be described as a sensational battle off.
We were treated to Banham’s glorious tone again in her ballad ‘These Are My Children’.

Seasoned AYT director Georgia Broomhall proved she has the mentorship and vision required for a show like this. With excellent characterisations, clear stage movement and many intimate moments, Broomhall is a natural in the executive position.

Choreography was sharp, sunny and totally era appropriate for the show, so well done to another AYT alumni, Zali Sedgman. I was bouncing out of my seat with the ensemble!

Kudos to Mark Stefanoff as Musical Director. His experience was welcomed during a technical mishap, after which the young cast just picked up where they left off with such professionalism.

This is showbiz after all!

Some fabulous harmonies and synchronisations, especially in ‘Hard Work’ and the live band, while sometimes overwhelming the voices, were crisp and on point.

Fantastic 1980s costumes, set and props added to the whole production, as did the lighting – bright and cheerful and sombre and moody depending on the scene.

The talented cast of this show masterfully portrays the struggles and triumphs, ambitions, and tempestuous relationships that arise in the cut-throat world of show business. The performers delve into complex issues such as prejudice, drug abuse, and sexual exploitation, while exploring the realities of striving for a career in this industry.


Lia Loves.


Lia Loves
Lia Loves
Theatre. Dance. Culture. Events. Follow her adventures as Adelaide's premier theatre buff, arts contributor, educator and ambassador!

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