Fame: “Baby, remember my name”

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    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis
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    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis
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    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis
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    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis
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    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis
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    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis
  • fame1
    Students rehearse in the auditorium for the upcoming musical. Photo: Zachary Ellis

Who wouldn’t want to be famous? Student actors at Amherst Regional High School have this chance, as they plan to perform the musical Fame to an excited audience in the first week of March. In the past, Fame has been produced as a movie, TV show, and a musical.

David De Silva conceived and developed the first Fame, The Musical, based on the 1980 film. He had produced the movie, which was also followed by a six-season television series. The musical has been significantly rewritten from previous adaptations.

Fame provides a look inside New York City’s High School of Performing Arts in the 1980s, where the teenagers’ hard work and determination are essential to their success as performers. The students learn to master acting, dancing, and singing as they grow up and face challenges together.

According to Wikipedia, the diverse cast of Fame includes “fame-obsessed Carmen, ambitious actress Serena, wisecracking comedian/bad boy Joe, quiet violinist Schlomo, determined actor Nick, overweight dancer Mabel, and poor dancer Iris.”

This year at ARHS, Kira Cairn will play the part of Carmen, Margo Kinney-Petrucha will play Serena, Josiah Vasquez will play Joe, Sasha Yakub will play Schlomo, Nathan Baron-Silvern will play Nick, Aurora Braun will play Mabel, Paula Fernandez will play Iris, and Nick Hennessey will play Jack Zakowski.

Any student in the high school can perform in the musical. Josiah Vasquez, a senior actor, is extremely excited for Fame.
“Every single person should do the musical. It is something fun and new. We work to make magic on stage and by the end of the year we become a family,” said Vasquez.

John Bechtold, the director, also believes that every student should sign up to perform at least once in their high school career. “The musical is for anyone who is willing to take on something a little risky, especially if they imagine they will never do it again in their lifetime,” said Mr. Bechtold. “I would love to destroy the myth that you should be able to sing and dance before walking into the show.”

Fame was one of Vasquez’s favorite movies and TV shows when he was younger and he thinks it’s a perfect choice for this year’s musical.

Fame has the important theme of high school students navigating through what it means to be a teenage performer,” said Vasquez.

Vasquez is most excited for the dancing in Fame. He loves to dance and cannot wait to learn and perform the variety of dances that the show has to offer, especially after watching different versions of the story and listening to its music for years.

Mr. Bechtold chose the musical for two main reasons.

Fame is slightly different than musicals we have done in previous years,” said Mr. Bechtold. “It is more of an earnest play, with the lives of sincere characters. It is also a more realistic play than last year’s glitzy performance of Hairspray.

Fame was also a perfect fit for the anticipated actors this year, as it is an ensemble show.

Mr. Bechtold thought this was perfect “because of the great number of actors this year with multiple stage talents.”

Mr. Bechtold said his favorite part of fame is the “big, high energy stuff.”

He believes that the musical has the kind of energy that high school students possess, a quality many adults do not. He believes using this momentum for the musical makes a whole lot of sense.

Fame contains imagination and idealism that a lot of people do not have. I am interested in the actors who can buy into this idealistic world and can live in the universe of these characters,” said Mr. Bechtold.

“I am also excited for the big all-cast moments when the entire cast floods the stage. In a show like this, it will have such an important presence,” said Mr. Bechtold.

Musicals like Fame can bring about a powerful sense of unity when it is finally show time.

Meghan Sharick, another senior actor said, “I am most excited to see all the acting, singing, and dancing finally fall perfectly together after so much hard work and so many hours have gone into getting it right.”

She added, “It’s exciting because we’ll surprise ourselves by putting on a show that is better than we ever expected.”

It is not only the performers who should get all the credit for what will be a great show, but the tech crew, as well.

This year’s crew of student leaders have been working back stage to make the musical the best it can be.