‘Fame’ for a new generation

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 12:00am
The cast of 'Fame the Musical'

Long before American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance took the world by storm, there was a little movie called Fame that had kids everywhere believing they could be the next big thing.

The 1980 hit, which spawned an equally successful television series, followed a talented group of students at New York City’s respected High School for Performing Arts — from their nerve-wracking auditions right up through graduation day.

MGM is hoping to bring Fame to a whole new generation, with plans to release a star-studded remake in September. Until then, local audiences can get their Fame fix with Circle Players' upcoming production of Fame the Musical.

“Most people are less familiar with the stage version,” said Kate Adams-Johnson, who is choreographing the show. “The story is a little different than the movie, but the characters are similar in type. It’s just a fantastic show with big dance numbers and great music.”

Adams-Johnson is uniquely qualified to help bring the show to life, having performed in the 1994 workshop production in Kansas for Fame creator David De Silva.

“It was incredibly exciting,” said Adams-Johnson, who relocated to Nashville in 1998 and now operates Damhsa Onorach School Of Irish Dance. “[De Silva] was still putting the show together, so we would perform and then get notes from the audience. It was a great experience.”

And an experience that she carries with her today as a choreographer.

“I have such a passion for choreography, which makes this show even more fun for me. Where most Broadway shows focus on one particular dance style, Fame incorporates everything from ballet to tap to jazz and modern. There’s a song called ‘Dancing on the Sidewalk,’ where we go a little reminiscent of Stomp with trash cans and everything.

“It’s a lot of work, but our cast is amazing,” she said. “They are young and talented — phenomenal dancers with great voices. That makes it absolutely heaven for me to go to rehearsal every night.”

What: Fame the Musical
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; July 24-Aug. 9
Where: Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
Cost: $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $10 on Thursdays
Info: 322-PLAY, circleplayers.net
• Rated PG-13 due to subject matter