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Fame the Musical – Review


A new production of the musical that ‘lives forever’

Bill Kenwright presents FAME – THE MUSICAL

Directed and Choreographed by Gary Lloyd

The Bristol Hippodrome

Tuesday 27th – Saturday 31st May


“You got big dreams. You want  fame?

Well fame costs.

And right here is where you start paying in sweat” 


Are you old enough to remember the 1980s TV series Fame? Well I admit it now. I am and I was glued to every episode of singing, dancing, acting and music – leg warmers and all. And now we have the chance to do it all over again!

Based on the 1980s Oscar winning musical film and subsequent TV series, this 21st Century production FAME – THE MUSICAL is set in 2014 at the High School for Performing Arts New York, where iPads are ‘in’ but leg warmers are almost non-existent.

Just like the TV programme and the hit film before it, young talented hopefuls undertake the journey of their lives. Ambition, triumph, heartbreak and romance conspire to steer them off course, and the pressure is too much for some. But these kids are determined to find fame and ‘live forever’.


At the start of the show we see star-struck wannabes auditioning for the Performing Arts school. Successful applicants work on various disciplines of the performing arts; acting, dancing, singing and music, each of which the relevant teacher claims is “the hardest profession in the world”. As well as the arts, students also need to achieve a set academic level, which presents its own challenges. Star dancer Tyrone is threatened from exclusion from the festival as he’s failed his sophomore English assignment, but the show goes on and the second act opens with a showcase of talents taking part in the festival.

We follow the progress of the adolescent students along with their romances and heartbreaks until graduation.


There is no orchestra, but music is supplied by a great band above stage, including drummer and guitarists.


  • Perhaps predictably, the musical number which really stood out for me was ‘Fame’, performed by Carmen (Jodie Steele) and company.
  • Sarah Harlington who plays Serena Katz demonstrates a very pretty voice in “Let’s Play a Love Scene”
  • Molly Stewart captivated the audience with her amusing rendition of “Mabel’s Prayer”, which was met with a huge round of applause.
  • The strict English teacher Miss Sherman was convincingly portrayed by Landi Oshinowoctor
  • Tyrone and the students performed an impressive modern street number, “Dancin’ on the Sidewalk”. Last night strobe lights flashed and pounding bass shook the theatre. We were in a box and the vibration was so strong it seemed entirely possible that the door might be rattled off it’s hinges!
  • During a dance practice Tyrone Jackson (Alex Thomas) struggles with a classic ballet move. With every part of his tall, slender body rippling with wiry muscles, “Blacks can’t cut ballet” he states. Yeah right! His range of dancing was amazing.
  • Some great dancing and impossibly high straddle jumps.
  • Fabulous finale with a good helping of the ‘FAME’ song, some great dancing and audience participation.
Fame the Musical - Review at Bristol Hippodrome


There’s a fair smattering of bad language sprinkled throughout. These are meant to be adolescent kids, so “shit”, “You piss me off”, “asshole”, “dammit” aren’t exactly hardcore, but my ten year old quoted the swearing as the only thing he didn’t like about the show. Is it necessary? I don’t think so, especially as on most levels he’s the ideal audience demographic for this show.

When Tyrone Jackson, the tall, wiry, street dancer finds the ballet class too straight for his tastes, he feigns energetic humping of his partner while his teacher’s back is turned. Quite amusing and I suspect my children were too young to understand it and it went right over their heads, as they haven’t asked me any awkward questions yet!

And there was quite a lot of talk about erections! The boys neither seemed embarrassed, nor shared silly 8 and 10 year old smirks with each other, so I’m guessing that may have passed them by too.
The main character Carmen Diaz is too hungry for fame, resorting to diet pills to maintain her slender figure. She subsequently makes the mistake of quitting her education to grasp the opportunity of a dubious job and ends up paying the ultimate price. This moralistic storyline invited the question of why people take drugs from my eight year old. He quoted the rumoured drug use of one of his musical idols, so I was pleased that Carmen’s downfall had opened up that discussion.


Even after the first half, the eight year old awarded it ten out of ten and didn’t want it to be the interval. He liked all of it.
The ten year old loved it, but
“didn’t like a lot of swearing”
The kids loved it and the audience gave it a standing ovation.
Personally I enjoyed watching it once but I wouldn’t rush back. I’m not really the intended demographic nowadays am I?! But I’m sure the boys would go again tonight if they had half a chance!


Tuesday 27th – Saturday 31st May

Evenings at 7.30 pm

at 2.30 pm on Wed, Thu & Sat

Tickets: £12.90  – £41.40

Concessions available






Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake

Robin Cousins’ ICE

Dirty Dancing

West Side Story

Happy Days


Starlight Express




White Christmas




Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Georgina Grogan 29/05/2014, 12:30

    Gosh this looks amazing! I love the photos as well 🙂

  • mellissa williams 29/05/2014, 11:02

    I used to love the film Fame, I saw it first when I was about 12. Regarding the swearing I think the film was the equivalent of a 15 certificate in todays rating structure, still shame it couldn’t be a little more kid friendly