I Wanna Make Magic is a musical number from the opening moments of Fame and that is certainly what Youth Onstage made at their production this evening – a magical evening of entertainment! Expertly directed by Deb Brook; the young, talented cast gave it all they had to produce a slick, fast-paced performance – they certainly did her proud in her 30th year of directing youth theatre shows!
The well-drilled chorus opened the show with a rousing rendition of Hard Work and set the standard for the rest of the evening and ending with a wonderful performance of Bring on Tomorrow. Strong vocal harmonies and innovative, energetic choreography were the hallmark of the chorus work in this show. David Jones (Musical Director) and Amy Evans (Choreographer) had obviously worked extremely hard to guide these young performers through the challenges that a musical like Fame brings.
There is a wealth of talent within the members of Youth Onstage. Hannah Brook shone as Serena, with powerful vocals, excellent comic timing and a relaxed professional manner on stage. Her rendition of Let’s Play a Love Scene was a real highlight. She was well supported by Adam Brown (Nick) who had excellent characterisation. Matthew Brook gave a strong performance as Schlomo and his rich, mature vocals brought a tingle to the spine and a tear to the eye, particularly in his opening verse of Bring on Tomorrow! Ellie Burley was a perfect Carmen. Her performance was wonderful, showing an energy and passion in the big dance numbers and yet bringing the audience to tears in her rendition of In LA. I don’t think I have seen this number performed so well and with such emotion – a really memorable moment!
The high standard of dance within the production was highlighted by the performances of Gibsa Bah (Tyrone) and Lauren Chapman (Iris). Gibsa performed with energy, clarity and showed just the right amount of “attitude” – a natural dancer. Lauren was elegant and showed excellent poise and control in the many challenging lifts and routines. Excellent comedy was provided by Mark Cornaby (Joe) and Emily Jenkinson (Mabel). Mabel’s Prayer was a wonderful moment of humour and a strong vocal performance.
It was a lovely touch to utilise the musical talents of the young performers with Lottie Rix (Goody) performing on the trumpet as part of the show and Joe Burley (Lambchops) showing off his versatility on a variety of percussion, including an impressive drum solo.
Renee Squire (Miss Sherman) gave a heartfelt performance as the English teacher struggling to get her pupils through the academic requirements of the Fame High School and her performance of These Are My Children showed real emotion and an understanding of her character. She was well matched with Esme Read (Ms Bell) in their Teacher’s Argument. It is wonderful to see younger performers moving up through the ranks and becoming principals in their own right. They were well supported by Phoebe Mason (Ms Myers) and Bethany Leonard (Mrs Sheinkopf) as the other teaching staff at P.A.
If I were to have one piece of advice, it would be to ensure that some of the minor principals slow their dialogue down to ensure we can understand every word. That said, the characterisations of all the young performers were excellent.
With a wonderful set, professional-sounding band and colourful costumes, Youth Onstage have produced a real hit! Fame really is a show that the production team, committee, crew and talented cast should be extremely proud of!
Fame runs at The Old Rep, Birmingham until this evening, Saturday 4th May.
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