FAME! A Director's Note

Artistic Director of the Theatre, Miss Fox, tells us why she picked Fame for this year's musical production.

It always seemed to me that being one of the ‘kids from Fame’ back in the 1980s would be the best fun ever.

Lunchtimes spent standing around a piano (or on canteen tables!) singing and dancing, seemed a far more appealing option than shivering in the freezing cold of a playground.

I imagine that a number of us here are lucky enough to have had theatre experiences early on in our lives which leave a lasting impression. Sitting on the low front row benches of the Manchester Royal Exchange to watch Hamlet many years ago is undoubtedly one of mine. By stark and wonderful contrast, watching my first musical, Annie, from the stomach-churning upper Gods at Manchester’s Palace Theatre is very definitely another. I loved every minute. I remember very clearly wearing a new Fame logo-ed dress that evening. It was a special and rare school trip, so called for the latest fashion sense! Best forgotten. But I’m not going to deny it – I always wanted to be a kid from Fame. I know I’m not alone!

And so how exciting to pass this on to the next generation in the Ben Travers Theatre to ensure that Fame is remembered and lives for ever! In a world where it is impossible to avoid would-be celebrity at every turn in the media, it might seem an odd choice for a school musical – should we be promoting such things? But there is a reason that the 1980s hit TV show, and subsequent film, made it to musical theatre status in 1988, and was then revived in London’s West End in 2002. It is actually not a story about being ‘famous’ of course; it’s about the hopes and drive that so many young people have within them to be successful, to follow their dreams. It’s about the importance that creativity and the performing arts play in our lives. And we’re all for that here! It’s about working hard to achieve that dream and about accepting that the path is not always an easy or sure one. We’re all for that too. While this musical carries some difficult themes, the concept of Fame endures because the message endures. Hard work is rewarded in the end. And the harder the work and the rougher the ride, the greater the reward.

Acting, music and dance are the hardest professions in the world, say the kids at PA. They are most certainly among the hardest, for a number of reasons, and many fall by the wayside along this career path. Neither is a reason not to try them. The tough, the tenacious and the talented pupils involved in the theatre here, show all the qualities of our School values. While our cast has not endured the hardship of three years of performing arts school in New York, they have experienced a pretty intensive few months in which they have worked hard at their singing, acting and dance. The latter, in particular, was new to most this year and some wondered what on earth they had signed up for when rehearsals began, but these Carthusians have stuck at it, smiled and bounced their way through rehearsals, and tiredness, Covid and injury (thankfully not Fame-induced!); they’ve juggled work and all their other Charterhouse activities to perform for you today. We know that they are all the richer for having had that opportunity. All of us on the creative team certainly consider ourselves richer for having had the opportunity to guide them through this project from auditions back in the winter term to this final week of spring term.

With grateful thanks to the whole Fame family involved and to you for coming to support us. And we’re now planning the next Charterhouse musical, so look forward to seeing you then! If you’re a current Carthusian or about to join us in September, come along and audition when the new school year begins. No acting, singing or dancing experience required – just enthusiasm and energy!