Living forever and learning how to fly


Fame flyer

Fame flyer

So I’m back rehearsing with Phoenix Performing Arts.  And it’s good.  This time, the implausibly talented young performers are doing Fame, which makes my head hurt sometimes – I’m rehearsing a scene about a rehearsal, with a group of trainee actors and dancers playing a group of performing arts students…  As in West Side Story, when I doubled up as Doc and Officer Krupke, I am an imported adult, playing the drama teacher Mr Myers.  This is very much a supporting role, giving the student characters someone to react to in various scenes (indeed, someone to be cross with for quite a bit of the show), but is good fun.  Myers does not sing, so it’s another chance to concentrate on the acting side of things, and PPA always make sure that I pay proper attention to this – I do more character work with them on my minor roles than I do with anyone else on larger roles.

Working on the character side of things is interesting.  Last year, I spent some time chasing the director around Whitstable Castle to discover that Officer Krupke was a gorilla.  This year, it has been decided that Myers has elephantine characteristics (I’m still working on the walk), I’ve passed shoes around to demonstrate the balance of power in a classroom and I’ve growled at the actresses playing Carmen in order to…  Actually, I forget why I had to growl, but I’m sure there was a good reason.  Unlike the rest of the class, my character is English (former RSC, we think) and he is truly passionate about acting and about communication this passion.  Unfortunately, we’re not sure he’s a very good teacher, bless him, and he certainly makes some odd choices.

All the student roles are double cast, and there is certainly enough talent to go around, with some of the cast being equally talented in acting, singing and dancing, true triple-threat performers.  If they weren’t also nice people, I would be spending rehearsal periods feeling very jealous and loathing them with every fibre of my being.  Since they are, the moments when Myers is watching his students and feeling quietly proud will be no trouble at all to act.  I am proud to work alongside them and proud that they welcome me as part of their family.

Fame runs from 9th to 12th September at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury.  The choreography is stunning, the energy levels will be through the roof and the young talent on display is inspiring.

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  1. There is an odd conjunction with another fairytale when I think of living forever and learning how to fly. Peter Pan never grew old and could fly. I remember watching Fame when I was in high school. It seemed like a fairytale for actors.

  2. It is a bit of a performing arts, fairytale, yes, complete with warnings about doing the wrong thing (at least in the stage version, I can’t really remember the film all that well). Interesting, the stage show’s finale, Bring on Tomorrow, includes lyrics that are reminiscent of Peter Pan:

    Long, long ago, in a world we never made,
    We were children who were making believe.
    Closing our, eyes, we were travellers in air
    To a land we did not want to leave.
    But this fairytale land goes away as we grow,
    And we all have to say our goodbyes…

    It makes me think of the Darlings leaving Neverland, returning to a sensible life of growing up, having shadows that never detach themselves and being very unlikely to encounter pirates.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong – but doesnt that woman with the tipped-down sunglasses in the poster remind me of something? Another (professional) show? Possibly from the West End?

    • Not as far as I know… She has sung at the Albert Hall, but I don’t know in what capacity.

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