Saturday, February 13, 2010

FAME: THE MUSICAL Chosen as 2010 LC Spring Musical

Everything You Want & Need to Know About Fame

Fame - The Musical

Book by David De Silva and José Fernandez
Music by Steve Margoshes
Lyrics by Jacques Levy
Conceived and Developed by David De Silva

Two Acts, Book Musical, Pop / Rock, Rated PG International Hit Version

It is nothing short of a global phenomenon. First came the hit motion picture, then the long-running television series. Now the screen sensation of the 1980's is the stage sensation of the 1990's and beyond! And if the recent smash-hit West End production is any indication, "Fame-The Musical" is indeed "gonna live forever."

Set during the last years of New York City's celebrated High School for the Performing Arts on 46th Street (1980-1984), "Fame-The Musical" is bittersweet but ultimately inspiring story of a diverse group of students as they commit to four years of grueling artistic and academic work. With candor, humor and insight, the show explores the issues that confront many young people today: issues of prejudice, identity, self-worth, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

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A group of vibrant, energetic young people, African-American, white, Hispanic, rich and poor alike, converge on 46th Street to audition for the chance to study at the famous New York High School of Performing Arts (P.A.). Praying they make P.A.," the students tear open a letter from the school, learn of their acceptance and begin a joyous dance of celebration.

On the first day of school, the freshman meet Miss Sherman, their English teacher, who warns them that it takes a lot more than dreams to succeed at "P.A." The students, with a mixture of excitement, trepidation and raw energy, acknowledge that what it really takes to succeed is ("HARD WORK").

Drama Class. Nick and Serena rehearse a scene and discuss their life experiences. Nick's goal in life is to move people emotionally ("I WANT TO MAKE MAGIC"). Mr. Myers, the drama teacher asks his students to recall how a physical sensation can trigger an emotional response. Joe, a funny, uninhibited young man, graphically recounts the very personal reactions that occur whenever he thinks of a certain beautiful girl in dance class ("CAN'T KEEP IT DOWN").

Dance Class. Tyrone, a sexy, streetwise African-American, is partnered with Iris, a very wealthy, classically-trained dancer. Iris obnoxiously derides Tyrone's lack of classical dance experience. Tyrone, enraged at her comments, begins a rap which expresses his anger ("TYRONE'S RAP"). Iris apologizes and, unexpectedly, kisses him passionately.

While Nick and Serena rehearse another scene, she tells him of her yearning to try something romantic and passionate. It becomes obvious Serena is in love with Nick. Nick, concerned only with acting, becomes upset and leaves. Heartbroken, Serena laments her unrequited love ("LET'S PLAY A LOVE SCENE").

At lunch, Carmen, a self-assured, cocky Latina spitfire, dreams of seeing her name in lights and people gasping as she walks down the street ("THERE SHE GOES/FAME"). The other students join in her fantasy and begin an exciting, electrifying dance.

The hallway. Miss Sherman expresses concern over Tyrone's care-free attitude towards education and threatens to keep him out of the Fall Festival if his grades don't improve. Miss Bell overhears this and argues that Tyrone's artistic talent is more important than his academic ability ("THE TEACHERS' ARGUMENT"). As Tyrone threatens to drop out of school, the other students try to focus on the reason why they are really there ("HARD WORK").

After two arduous but rewarding years, the students now begin their junior year with the P.A. Fall Festival ("I WANT TO MAKE MAGIC").

Dance rehearsal. Mabel, a bit overweight for a dancer but full of spunk and wit, complains about the water her body is retaining. In a hilarious yet touching turn, she prays aloud for God's help in keeping her from becoming "the world's fattest dancer" ("MABEL'S PRAYER").

The scene shifts. Serena enters to see Carmen and Nick kissing. Heartbroken once again, Serena tearfully remembers one of the first lessons she learned at P.A. and tries to channel her emotions into her acting ("THINK OF MERYL STREEP").

"Carmen confronts Schlomo with her plan to leave school and go to Los Angeles. She has met a Hollywood agent named Elliot Greene, who is sending her a plane ticket. Schlomo begs her not to go. He has seen her get into Elliot's limousine outside of school before and accuses her of using cocaine with him. Schlomo tells Carmen he loves her, but when he realizes he is powerless to stop her, he turns his attention to his violin.

In Miss Sherman's English class, Tyrone is spotted reading a Superman comic book. Miss Sherman confronts him by forcing him to stand up in front of the class and read from the comic book. Embarrassed, he accuses her of trying to make him look stupid: "Wanna fail me again? Go ahead. I'll pass in summer school, bitch." Miss Sherman gives him a resounding slap in the face and walks off. Defensively, Tyrone says to his shocked classmates he doesn't need her help. " I'm choreographin' my own life." This leads to his fantasy dance number, "Dancin' on the Sidewalk." Confronting his pain and frustration, Tyrone goes to the blackboard, writes "I WILL READ," and runs off. Miss Sherman enters, sees what he has written, and is deeply touched. ("These Are My Children.")

A baroque trumpet-call sounds as the drama students rehearse Romeo and Juliet. Joe, insecure playing Romeo, has been ad-libbing. Serena pleads with him to be serious in the part. Nick offers to show him how to play Romeo and winds up kissing Serena in their first romantic moment. Tyrone asks Iris why she has been avoiding him all year. She says she doesn't want to be tied to a loser. He takes out a copy of Leaves of Grass and reads to her, showing her he has a whole new attitude about learning. They dance a pas de deux.

Mr. Sheinkopf, Mr. Myer and Miss Sherman confront Miss Bell about influencing a summer school teacher to pass Tyrone even though he never showed up. They insist he must repeat the year. But the Dance Theatre of Harlem is ready to take him, says Miss Bell. "Let them wait!" says Mr. Sheinkopf. Miss Bell, left alone with Miss Sherman, finally admits she may be losing her perspective and suggests she take a sabbatical.

Carmen is standing in front of the school looking physically wasted and disoriented. She spots Schlomo and after a warm embrace, she tells him the truth about her experiences in Hollywood ("In L.A."). Carmen promises him she is going to go for her equivalency diploma, but right now she needs money. He gives her a couple of dollars and sadly departs.

At the farewell party, everyone is dressed up and the celebration is loud and festive. Tyrone tells Miss Sherman he is going to repeat his senior year and give her another chance to whip him into shape. Joe announces not only is Lambchops finally wearing a dress, but he is going to be opening at a comedy club - and they'd all better be there. Serena is on her way to Brooklyn College and Nick is headed for Yale. They wonder about their future together ("Let's Play a Love Scene").


Cast size: Large (over 20)

Cast Type:
Ensemble Cast - Many featured roles, Ethnic Roles, Older Role(s), Showcases trained dancers, Teenage Roles

Dance requirement: Medium-Heavy (Extensive Dance Sections/Solos)

Casting notes: Ethnic roles, ideally, the performers should be able to perform the specialty art of their assigned character, especially the instrumentalists.

Character Breakdown

*JACK ZAKOWSKI (alternate casting for Tyrone Jackson) Headstrong, able, dancer - a functional illiterate. A russian immigrant student from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn who wants to be John Travolta.

*TYRONE JACKSON Headstrong, able, dancer - a functional illiterate

CARMEN DIAZ Insecure, talented dancer/ singer

CHORUS 15-45 Students at P.A., who have lines and sing, and who constantly interact and grow with the others.

GOODMAN (GOODY) KING ) Jazz trumpeter

GRACE (Lambchops) LAMB A drummer, comic

IRIS KELLY Well-to-do, lovely dancer

JOE (JOSE) VEGAS High energy, charming actor

MABEL WASHINGTON R&B singer, plump, comic

MISS BELL Dance teacher, puts art first

MISS SHERMAN Traditionalist, English teacher

MR. MYERS Drama teacher, easy-going

MR. SHEINKOPF Music teacher, distinguished

NICK PIAZZA Handsome, serious actor

SCHLOMO METZENBAUM Affable, sensitive violinist

SERENA KATZ Insecure, shy actress


It all started with one man-- David De Silva, who, although he had no connection to New York's High School for Performing Arts, was endlessly fascinated by the institution, and the dedication and passion of the students there. De Silva, known as "Father Fame" conceived and developed the now classic 1980 film, as well as the television series, the reality show, and finally, the stage version of FAME: THE MUSICAL.

Although the show didn't arrive in New York until 2004, FAME-THE MUSICAL was first presented at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida in 1988. Since then, it has become an international phenomenon, with productions in Spain, Australia, Japan, Poland, Hungary, Mexico and Korea, to name but a few. In London, the show has played six separate times since 1995, and has been running continuously at the Aldwych Theatre since 2002. The New York production played Off-Broadway at the Little Shubert Theater. It was directed by Drew Scott Harris and spawned a cast recording that was released in 2004.

A CurtainUp Review Fame On 42nd Street By Brad Bradley
Hallelujah! Three minutes into this effervescent high-energy show, I knew I was enjoying myself. After enduring horridly annoying retreads of rocking movie musicals lamely adapted for the stage (the likes of Footloose and Saturday Night Fever), I was prepared for the worst. But, wondrously, David De Silva, this project's longtime promoter and developer, along with a top-notch company, has brought it off. His Fame on 42nd Street is a terrific stage adaptation that matches the challenges of the live medium, presenting a gallery of interesting, convincing characters, singing and dancing in a manner that soars the spirit and soothes the soul as well.

While the opening song, "Pray I Make P.A" set in 1980 and sung by hopeful freshman students to New York's High School of Performing Arts in a series of isolated spotlights, does start with repetitive and monotonous utterances, this lackluster device in no way reflects the sparkling show to follow. Dynamite explodes by song's end, and never lets up until after the last note the post-bows finale a little more than two hours later.

Director Drew Scott Harris has assembled a wonderful cast, and works his ensemble hard; the actors' tasks include the moving of sets and props to maintain the show's brisk, even driving pace, and Swedish choreographer Lars Bethke keeps the company virtually airborne in exhilarating dances.

This remarkable cast of 22 (18 students and four teachers) is truly an ensemble, with even the chorus members having ample opportunity to shine. The entire cast is appealing, certainly including the two most troubled teens as beautifully played by Shakiem Evans and Nicole Leach, both key musical resources in this Fame. Evans, playing a dancer with great talent but impoverished in his discipline and even basic academic skills, not only presents an electric dance solo, but also has honed an arc of character development that moves many to tears. Other standouts include Cheryl Freeman as an English teacher who understands the scarring of the streets, Christopher J. Hanke as an acting student with unusual professional maturity masking his uncertain social development, Dennis Moench as a precocious violinist trying to escape his famous parent's shadow, Sara Schmidt as an uncertain but determined young actress, and Michael Kary, shining even in a peripheral role as a trumpet player.

The score (excepting only the unavoidable iconic title tune written for the 1980 film and central to the six-year-long television series) is new, and quite attractive. Composer Steve Margoshes and Lyricist Jacques Levy have fashioned a collection of songs that effectively service their story and characters, and comfortably fit both the period and contemporary ears, including even manageable doses of Spanish in deference to the multi-cultural nature of the population, both onstage and in New York City in general. Highlights include "I Want to Make Magic", an actor's vocal solo counter pointed by an upstage violin lesson, "Think of Meryl Streep", a gospel-style assertion by Q. Smith as a chubby street-wise girl who rechannels her dream from dancing to acting, 'These are My Children", Miss Sherman's riveting blues anthem, and "Let's Play a Love Scene", a touching unexpected connection that is emblematic of the genuine emotional and theatrical center of this lovable show.

Musical book writers rarely get the credit they deserve, only the blame when a show fails to work, and the late Jose Fernandez did a masterful job of balancing more than a dozen key characters into a fine stage tapestry. He unfortunately lived to see his work staged only in Stockholm in 1993, missing the extraordinary and deserved international success that a decade later finally has found its way to New York.

Although set in the intimate new Little Shubert, about half the size of the smaller Broadway musical venues, Fame has production values to burn, with a wonderful use of levels and textures in the mostly school building locations designed by Norbert U. Kolb. Paul Tazewell's sharp costumes and Ken Billington's powerhouse lighting add to the design pizzazz. Fame on 42nd Street knows its goals and achieves them. Its predictable line that "artists are special" gets full endorsement here. This sometimes crusty critic left the theater on a performance high.


Perform is what the buoyant new musical, Fame, does dance number after exhilarating dance number, song after sweet song, never losing sight of its mission to entertain... a nice sensitivity to the condition of being young and hopeful and gifted... Exhilarating." - The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Completely uplifting, something that speaks to the quiet idealism in all of us." -The Miami Herald

"Wild horses couldn't have dragged me away from Fame - The Musical." -Mail on Sunday

"Engages passionately with the here and now." - Evening Standard"

Fame -- The Musical' will live forever in high schools everywhere By Denise Grollmus Beacon Journal staff writer

Pirouetting through the hallways of a New York City performing arts high school in leg warmers and off-the-shoulder sweat shirts, the feisty Irene Cara emblazoned the taste for Fame into every little girl's hot-pink '80s heart.

But dancing on taxicabs and ``making it'' was not necessarily the message Fame's creator David DeSilva was trying to send.

``It's not that I'm pushing kids to be professional performers,'' DeSilva said. ``The theme of the show is not about making it, it's really about finding the arts and letting them make a difference in your life, whatever you do. Whatever you do in your life you're going to do better if you expose yourself to the arts.''

DeSilva, known to his fans as ``Father Fame,'' has made the story line of struggling performing arts school teens something of a cottage industry for himself, as the creator and executive producer of the 1980 Oscar-winning film, the long-running television program, and the reality show, all of which are called Fame.

Improving on the finer points of the film, DeSilva has finally taken the cult classic to the stage as Fame -- The Musical, coming Tuesday and Wednesday to Cleveland's Palace Theater.

``It's really gonna live forever as live theater,'' he said.

``I don't think the movie or the TV show really captured it the way the musical does. It's not the same as it is on the stage, where no two performances are the same and young people all over the world can do it,'' DeSilva said.

``The creative process just stops once the camera stops rolling. Here, the creative process is infinite.''

If you go to the show expecting to hear Hot Lunch or to witness a Cara-incarnate named ``Coco,'' you'll be much surprised because Fame -- The Musical is not a stage-mounting of the original film.

In fact, even the diverse group of characters within the musical have criticisms to air about the movie.

As the musical begins with the first day of freshman year, the homeroom teacher announces: ``If you've come here because you think you're gonna live forever or envision dancing on cars down 46th Street, you're humming the wrong tune.''

With a whole new arsenal of songs, thanks to lyricist Jacques Levy and composer Steve Margoshes, and characters courtesy of writer Jose Fernandez, Fame -- The Musical is being performed everywhere from off-Broadway to Norway and from professional theaters to high schools.

DeSilva said that the intention of creating the musical was to allow enough flexibility for every director and young actor to put his or her own stamp on the show's flavor.

But a few things do remain the same: The iconic theme song, Fame, is still present along with the 1980s leg warmers and the trials and tribulations of everyday teen life.

``I decided to keep the musical set in the '80s, because I wanted this to be the story about the last class to graduate from the old school building before it moves to a more modern building in Lincoln Center,'' DeSilva said.

``So I decided to make this the class of 1984, following them through all four years of school. That was a special thing to do theatrically, that this is the last class from the old school.''

DeSilva first created the story when he became fascinated by the idea of magnet schools, particularly New York City's LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts.

``I believe these magnet schools are really the best thing in education. If your kid has a special talent, they can receive special attention for that and really make the most of it and not just in the performing arts, but computer science, or whatever it may be that someone excels at,'' he said.

Since the advent of the first Fame incarnation, magnet schools, and particularly performing arts schools -- dubbed ``Fame schools'' -- have skyrocketed in popularity.

``There is at least one performing arts school in every major city, and when we made this film, that just wasn't true. It's amazing how many performing arts schools are everywhere, now,'' DeSilva said.

(Akron's Miller South Visual and Performing Arts Middle School is not just an example of DeSilva's beloved magnet school structure, but they take it to a whole new level by introducing children in grades 4 through 8 to their talents at an even younger age and integrating the arts into every aspect of academics, said principal Margot Snider.)

For DeSilva, the most crucial aspect of the New York run of Fame -- The Musical is its adjoining apprentice program for high school juniors to get a taste of professional theater.

DeSilva also hopes to make the show an annual event at performing arts high schools around the nation. He is already in discussion with the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts to kick off the program with a performance at the end of this year.

``I wouldn't have created any other show like this,'' DeSilva said.

``I feel that this is something I was destined to do. I channel the energy that is Fame.''

Biography of David De Silva

David De Silva (Concept and Development) is known as "Father Fame." He conceived, developed and produced the MGM motion picture Fame. The film received four Academy Award nominations. He was Consulting Producer on the television series which ran for six years on network television and in syndication, received numerous Emmy Awards, and has been seen in sixty-eight countries. Mr. De Silva believes that Fame will have its greatest success in the theatre. Its youth-oriented idealism and "live" performance energy will be an inspiration to young people everywhere.

Biography of José Fernandez

José Fernandez began his theatrical career as an actor. On Broadway, THE ME NOBODY KNOWS, for which he received The Variety Critic’s Poll Nomination for Best Actor, as well as HAIR, TRUCKLOAD and TWO GENTLEMEN of VERONA. José’s turns as a writer includes the Off-Broadway musical, EL BRAVO!, produced by Kenneth Waissman and has co-authored several comedies. In 1984, with David De Silva, he began the task of transforming FAME into a new and timeless musical. Born in Cuba and raised in New York City, he died at 46, but not before he saw FAME in Stockholm, in 1993. Performed in Swedish it was this hit production that launched the global FAME phenomenon. The theater filled with youngsters, many with their parents, Jose carefully observed the reactions, hushed gasps and teary eyes, thunderous applause and joyous laughter. He needed no further evidence; convinced of the impact the show would have on the world.

Biography of Steve Margoshes

Steve Margoshes in collaboration with David De Silva has composed orchestrated and recorded new symphonic works for symphony orchestra under the banner,”SYMPHONIC FAME” (a double CD) and ”SYMPHONIC FAME” for violin and orchestra. These recordings were made with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra with Laszlo Kovacs conducting and Barnabas Kelemen as virtuoso violinist. His newest recording is a CD, “Sawing to New Heights With Steve and Dale,” a new work for saw and piano with Dale Stuckenbruck on saw and Steve on piano.

As orchestrator, Steve's numerous credits include 6 Broadway shows: Elton John and Tim Rice's AIDA, The Who's TOMMY, BIG RIVER, (Tommy Tune's revival of) GREASE!, SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE (The songs of Leiber and Stoller), and Jim Steinman and Roman Polanski's upcoming DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES. Steve won Drama Desk awards for his orchestrations of BIG RIVER and TOMMY.

Biography of Jacques Levy

Jacques Levy has written lyrics with and for many well-known recording artists. He wrote Bob Dylan's album Desire with Dylan, and it became one of Dylan's biggest-selling albums ever, with the single Hurricane" released from it. Levy has written a half dozen albums with Roger McGuinn... for the Byrds, the Thunderbyrd Band, and McGuinn's solo works, including the hit single "Chestnut Mare." His lyrics have also been recorded by Carly Simon, Crystal Gayle, Joe Cocker and Jerry Lee Lewis. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Levy has written a considerable amount for the theatre, including five produced musicals, two of them, Oh, Calcutta! and The Golden Land, presented on the New York stage. Along the way, Levy's work has been honored with three Grammy nominations. He is currently head of the Theatre Program and Director of University Theatre at Colgate University. He lives in Hamilton, NY, with his wife and two children.

Rehearsal Set:



Orchestra Size


Instrumentations with Doublings









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