Young cast rocked to the sound of ‘Fame’

The cast with Eccleshall’s Leah Banwell  as Carmen Diaz at the front
The cast with Eccleshall’s Leah Banwell as Carmen Diaz at the front

The struggles and triumphs of a group of wannabe stars at New York’s High School for Performing Arts were laid bare by students in a high octane production of Fame – the Musical.

The exuberant cast from Stafford Grammar School never let energy levels slip as they sang, acted and danced their way through the rebooted stage version of David de Silva’s 1980 Oscar-winning musical film. Accompanied by professional musicians, they portrayed the lives and loves of the graduating class of 2004 and their quest for stardom.
While nostalgic remnants of lycra, legwarmers and sweatbands remained, the updated production brought with it 21st century smartphones, IPods and teenagers taking ‘selfies’.

In the opening scene as a group of young hopefuls gather to audition for places, Miss Sherman, the English teacher – played by 15-year-old Olivia Smith – warns that it takes more than dreams to succeed at the school, referred to affectionately as ‘PA’.

Eccleshall’s Leah Banwell delivered a stand-out performance as the fame-obsessed but troubled Carmen Diaz.

“Some of the songs I performed were quite challenging, but it’s such a fun production to be involved in and we were able to relate to the characters because they’re a similar age to us. The songs are catchy and I liked the fact that we could include lots of dancing,” said 16-year-old Leah.

The Eccleshall teenager also took the lead vocal in Irene Cara’s quarter-of-a-century-old iconic title song, for a big finish involving the whole cast.