Saturday, February 13, 2010

FAME, An Inspirational Musical that Changed My Life



In the late 1970's my friend Scott Hogan and sat in his basement in our neighborhood. Scott popped a copy of the original film FAME into the laser disc (the newest technology of the decade) and I was lost. Not even in high school yet, I watched the film over and over again. These students in New York were getting a shot at what I wanted in my life--the excitement of live performances, the audiences, the spectacle, the success.

As the years passed, Debbie Allen's famous lines "You want fame? This is where you start paying for it." And as I was cast in my first high school productions, I gained a glimpse of the dedication and "Hard Work" that it took to "Make Magic." During the summer of my sophomore year, we discovered that we would be getting a new drama teacher at Holy Name High School. Mrs. Wilson certainly changed my life. And as I watched episodes of "Fame" and the "The Kids from Fame" on tv, that little stage at Holy Name High School became a launching pad for a life in the theatre. And what a wonderful ride it has been. "The drafty halls, the penciled scripts, the stories...ow, the stories that you hear, the people you grow to love. Ephemeris, ephemeris, eh?"

In the early 80's the stage grew into stages and opportunities that have forever changed who I am. Northwest Missouri State's friendships and opportunities along with the training and the life lessons that I learned there have served me well. I can't imagine what I might be like had Dr. Schultz, Dr. Ross, Mike Ludwick, Chan Fischer, Sheila, Roger, Steve, Chris & Linda, Steve, Jonathon, Pink Boy, Buckethead, Harry, Russ, Chuck, Tom, Trisha, Kim, Robert, Jerdwa, Jerry, Doug, Jim, Denny not been in my life. The shows that we did were absolutely incredible. And the songs from "FAME" quietly played in the drafting room, the costume shop, the scene shop.

In the late 80's I met Dana Pinkston at K-State. A fantastic scenographer who designed the set for MASTER HAROLD...AND THE BOYS. She was also designing a set for the Wamego High School production of FAME. Her renderings were beautiful. And when I took the job at Concordia High School in Kansas, the show would surface now and again as a possibility. The songs from the television serious, though were used on more than one occasion to inspire casts. In ORDINARY PEOPLE the songs were used to inspire Darrick, Monica, Rich, Amanda, Erica, Marsha, Kevin, Bob, Nancy and so many more kids that I still cherish. People who remarkably are still part of my life and valued life-long friends.

In 1998 I directed the production at Lewis Central. Dusty, Katrinka, Mandy, Erin, Andy, Andrew, April, Marty, Kevin and those students were incredible in the production. It is still the largest cast in LC history with 120 students in the cast alone. We held double-rehearsals every day to accomodate everyone's hectic schedules.

And now 30 years later, after seeing the Broadway production on tour with Heckman, another chapter for FAME in my life. As we prepare to audition for the production and I get to work with Brian, Andy, Rachael, & Mel, I am excited to celebrate the tradition that has been built at LC by all of the dedicated students who know that the "Magic" on stage is an illusion painted with the brush of sacrifice and "Hard Work."

I am considering adding one or both of these songs to the production.



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