The Rapidian

Civic Theatre's "Fame" a hit

Diversely talented students from diversely varying backgrounds embark on a journey together of personal and artistic development at New York City's High School of Performing Arts
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The musical “Fame” was a hit at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre last Thursday night as a sold-out audience of 800 and a line of waitlisted walk-ins swarmed the lobby, anxious to take their seats.

“Fame,” a widely acclaimed musical rendition, is a product of David De Silva and Jose Fernandez’s famous book about a diverse group of high school students who embark on a four year journey of artistic and personal development at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City.

Civic Theatre’s set of an urban alley in the heart of the city was the perfect foundation as singers climbed stair structures that spanned the back of the stage.

Jessica Lulz gave a rousing performance as Miss S., the strict but well-intentioned academic teacher. Her strong, clear voice reached the back row of the mezzanine and her inspirational acting performance paralleled her vocal talent.

Katie Szostake, a Junior at Hudsonville High School, was a perfect fit as Serena Katz, with her talented performance of the transformation of a shy adolescent to a comedic crowd-pleaser.

The biggest shock of the night was the unassuming role of Mabel Washington, performed by Amanda Wright, a sophomore at Caledonia High School. This actress’ voice, resounding from her petite figure, blew audience ears away. Her solo was passionate and unshaken. The audience was in near tears from laughter as her comedic role highlighted the truth and tension of one dancer’s confliction with a food obsession.

The cast of actors, dancers, singers and musicians was well directed by Bruce Tinker and the cast selection mirrored the varying talent of any performing arts school.

With a limited audition pool, the multi-talent requirement for cast members in “Fame” inevitably left a discord amidst the aforementioned praise. Where other cast members’ acting excelled, the ballet technique faltered and vocal pitches cracked, but the director found a balance with the talent at hand and the great outweighed the shortfall.

The humor and passion exuded from the main cast was nothing short of inspirational, from the crude humor of “Joe Vegas,” to the tragedy of the star-struck singer “Carmen Diaz” to the hardworking child star “Nick Piazza” who longs to prove his sophisticated talent. Supporting artistic roles that filled the stage among them gave depth to the stage, reality to the set and sparked audience interest into the mystery of the many personal lives of struggling performers whose stories are left untold.

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