Monday, October 10, 2011

REVIEW: Fame - The Musical (Macao)

Macao Cultural Centre Grand Auditorium, Saturday October 8

Still not feeling well, I pushed myself to go to Macao to see Fame - The Musical. This production by Barkley Kalpak Associates for the 25th Macao International Music Festival confirms that Fame - The Musical is actually not a very good musical. Having said that, it is good that musical is back in the programming of the festival after disappearing since 2008.

Come to think of it, I first saw this musical way back in 2002 when an Australian production toured Hong Kong. In comparison, the Australian production was more posh; but talent-wise, this predominantly New York-based cast was better. One talent in the Australian production did stand out however even way back in 2002 and he was Mig Ayesa who played Jose Vegas. Subsequently, I got to see him in We Will Rock You (London) and Rock of Ages (New York).

Fame - The Musical (book by Jose Fernandez, lyrics by Jacques Levy and music by Steve Margoshes), just like the original movie, is set in New York High School of Performing Arts. It deals with the dreams, drugs, love affair and poverty of the students. It offers a lot of snappy music and dance number but little in characterization or story.

Even with a decent cast like this one, one can’t help but feel that the book and some of the lyrics were not right. When Regina LeVert as Miss Esther Sherman (English teacher) was singing These Are My Children, I can’t help but be amazed at how beautiful she sounded despite the cringe-inducing lyrics, “These are my children, my saving grace, I see my calling in every face. These are my children and I thank God for choosing me, for choosing me.” Some of the trite lyrics didn’t matter as much especially when performed by Annie Funke’s Mabel Washington in Mabel’s Prayer.

Overall, it was a good production of a so-so musical.

Fame – The Musical
October 7 to 9 2011
Barkley Kalpak Associates, Inc. (USA)
Produced and Presented by The Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao SAR Government and Barkley Kalpak Associates, Inc.
Conceived and Developed by David de Silva
Music: Steve Margoshes
Lyrics: Jacques Levy
Book: Jose Fernandez

Creative Team:
Executive Producer and Co - Director: Jeff Kalpak
Producer: Keith Marrapodi
Co Director Choreographer: Richard J. Hinds
Musical Director and Conductor: Mark Fifer
Scenic and Lighting Designer: Michael Reese
Costume Designer: Scott Westervelt

Cast includes:
Serena Katz: Kelly Felthous
Joe Vegas: Joel Perez
Carmen Diaz: Lexi Lawson
Mabel Washington: Annie Funke
Tyrone Jackson: Benjamin Mapp
Iris Kelly: Laura Volpacchio
Schlomo Metzenbaum: Robert Farruggia
Grace "Lambchops" Lamb: Alissa Laderer
Goodman "Goody" King: Richard Cerato
Ms. Greta Bell: Joan Hess
Miss Esther Sherman: Regina LeVert
Mr. Meyer: Peter Reardon
Mr. Sheinkopf: Bruce Winant

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