Adventures in the Fame school are nothing short of excitement and drama. Talented performers take us on the journey through adolescence, highlighting that anyone can achieve what they want with just a little “Hard Work”. International House staged a musical that brought laughs and sheer enjoyment to their audience.
All characters were performed with a good understanding of their intentions and aspirations. A special mention must go out to Jonathan Evans and Bridget Loughhead, who both stole the show. Evans, who played the sleazy role of Joe Vegas, maintained a heavy Spanish accent and never dropped out of character. Loughhead, as “the world’s fattest dancer” Mabel Washington, had excellent comic timing as well as a natural aura which captured the audience’s attention. The lead role of Carmen Diaz (Anastasia Latin) had great intensity that communicated the hardships one must face when “In L.A.”. Zachary Hamilton–Russel played Schlomo with wonderful awkwardness, and I was quite impressed that he played the piano accompaniment live on stage. The “Teacher’s Argument” between Ms Sherman and Ms Bell (Hannah Palfreyman and Natcha Limpianunchai) had elements of tension and solid harmonies running throughout. Mrs Myers (played by Louisa Wall) chose to have an Australian accent rather than the typical American, which I thought a nice change and aided in the comedic element of her role. On a side note, Brett Stone had the role of the drug dealer down pat with his animated movements and wide smirk. A clear audience favourite!
The show had some strong directional choices that worked well. This is a credit to the directors (Hamish Plaggemars and Freya McGrath), who challenged the show in many ways. Casting a woman in the role of Nick Piazza was a bold decision. Even though I did like the close friendship portrayed and the acting of Anushka Mudholkar, I felt that this choice undermined the intense love story of Serena and Nick, which is quite central to the show.
Choreography was simple yet effective – the cast knew what they were doing. While some elements of the lighting complemented the action on stage, for the most part the lighting was quite dark and hindered the audience’s ability to see the action and the characters’ facial expressions. Microphones were a slight issue throughout the show; however, the cast did an exceptional job at making do with what was available. Volume levels were a problem in general. For majority of the show the band was too loud, and this often distorted the audience’s ability to decipher what was being sung and how it progressed the story.
The band was quite good, although I was slightly disappointed they didn’t play all the songs in the musical. Those they did perform were played with ease and enjoyment, and it was great to see the band being included in the final number.
Overall the production of Fame definitely showcased the “hard work” by all cast members of International House and is one of which they should definitely feel proud.
International House’s production of Fame – the Musical played at The Open Stage, Swanston 757, the University of Melbourne from August 27-29.