Fame–The Musical

Halliwell’s Film Guide calls the 1980 movie Fame a “cleverly shot and edited slice of life which unfortunately features people whose language and personalities are fairly repellent.” But that’s actually the strength of the material conceived by David De Silva–coproducer of the original movie, consulting producer of the spin-off TV series, and the driving force behind the current stage version. This story about streetwise teenagers enrolled in New York’s La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts doesn’t sugarcoat its characters or the lessons they learn; in a media-saturated age that bombards kids with fan-mag fantasies of overnight stardom and instant gratification, Fame’s gritty takes on drugs, sex, and the self-sacrifice and competitiveness needed to make it in the entertainment world (and in many other segments of society) are refreshingly candid. This glossy touring production, staged by Swedish director-choreographer Lars Bethke, features a new script by Jose Fernandez; like the original screenplay, it follows kids from various racial and class backgrounds as they claw their way into and through the midtown Manhattan vocational school. A new pop/hip-hop score by Jacques Levy and Steve Margoshes augments the film’s title song, by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford. Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, 312-902-1500. Opens Tuesday, January 26, 7:30 PM. Through January 31: Wednesday-Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 2 and 7 PM. $22-$50; $20 for selected student seats.

–Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Carol Rosegg.