King’s Theatre, Edinburgh – until 22 July 2017
Guest reviewer: Sarah Moyes
Edinburgh youth group The Beyond Broadway Experience introduce the new intake of students to the King’s stage in this electrifying performance of the classic musical.
Fame The Musical, based on the 1980’s film Fame, tells the story of a group of young people studying at one of America’s top performing arts schools in New York.
The show opens with the students auditioning to get into PA, the city’s High School of Performing Arts, but this production has a Scottish twist as one of the students is playing the bagpipes as his selected audition piece as he hopes to make it into the famous school.
The choice of musical for this year’s Beyond Broadway Experience show couldn’t be more fitting for a group of young people interested in the world of the arts.
It’s during the show’s opening number Hard Work that the main cast are introduced. Adam Craig has perfect comic timing as Joe, and has the whole audience laughing during Can’t Keep It Down as he attempts to make his affections known to Carmen.
Caitlin Tipping gives a superb performance as Carmen, the fame-obsessed student whose tragic downfall weaves through the show. Carmen is also the affection of Schlomo, played by Gareth Williams, who gives a touching performance, especially on Bring on Tomorrow, a song performed in Carmen’s memory.
Reuben Woolard and Melissa McNaught are a perfect pairing as students Nick and Serena. They work well together, especially in the second half of the show when their relationship grows. McNaught’s rendition of Let’s Play a Love Scene is simply stunning – she captivates the audience to the point where you could hear a pin drop.
The singing talent of the cast throughout the show really is first class and there’s not a note out of place. Megan Forbes and Charmain Leitch, who play teachers Miss Bell and Esther Sherman, give a stunning performance of Teacher’s Argument, and Sarah Kerr hits some incredibly high notes during Mabel’s Prayer giving her one of the biggest cheers of the night.
Rory Macleod gives a fantastic performance as Tyrone, a hip hop dancer who struggles with the academic side of school. One of the dance highlights of the show is Dancin’ on the Sidewalk which sees the entire ensemble dancing with Tyrone commanding the stage with his every move. The choreography, by co-founder of MGA Murray Grant and Louise Ferrier, is clever, original and fun. There are ballet numbers, contemporary moves and some of the cast even do backflips across the stage.
The Beyond Broadway Experience has really tapped into some wonderful talent in his production. As the show comes to an end we’re treated to the classic song Fame we’ve been waiting for as the yellow taxi appears in the middle of the stage and the cast burst into song.
An utterly brilliant production from a hugely talented cast. There are many times throughout the show when you forget this is a youth performance, a true testament to the calibre of the young people on the stage.