On the road to Fame with lots of new songs

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It may sound corny but the director and choreographer of a new stage version of Fame really was obsessed with the show as a youngster.

Gary Lloyd, whose previous stage hits include Thriller Live and Flash Mob, has taken a cast of youngsters straight out of drama school for the fast-paced and hugely enjoyable show.

The story about young hopefuls at the world-famous High School for Performing Arts in New York first became a hit with Alan Parker’s 1980 film, starring Irene Cara. That spawned a TV series and several stage versions.

Gary said: “This is a completely revamped production. I grew up with Fame and that’s the sole reason I’m doing it. It’s huge for me.

“Having seen many productions over the years, when I was approached to do it, my only conditions were to give it a facelift and bring it up to date.

“We keep all the iconic moments, so that we don’t alienate the original fans. We give them something they can relate to.”

Gary said that the show has been updated to 2014 and makes use of modern technology, so some of the youngsters find that they have won a place via their iPads.

The music has also been brought up to date and different characters have different song themes from stars like Ed Sheeran, Will.I.Am and Adele that reflect their personalities.

Gary hopes that will give the show more cross-generation appeal.

However, the hit theme tune still features heavily, including in a big singalong segment involving the audience at the end of the show.

Gary said: “Everybody knows it and sings it. All the lads backstage find themselves singing along!”

He said: “We are still aiming to do what Alan Parker did in the film and lead from the story of the characters’ drives and ambitions so the music and dance comes through the story. This is not one of the shows where the script just hangs between the big numbers.”

Of course, the nature of fame has changed since 1980 as reality shows seem to give an easy route to people who want to be famous for themselves and not their talents. But, as the film said, fame costs.

Gary said: “The message of Fame is more real than when it first came out.

“Now someone wants to go on The Voice or The X Factor. Kids buy into it. More than to be in a show, they want to be famous.”

The story looks at the downside of fame through the story of Carmen, who is played by Jodie Steele.

Despite only being a year out of drama school, she has appeared in Footloose, Bare, Follies, The Tina Turner Experience and played Mimi in Rent.

Jodie described her character as a “fame-hungry sexpot. She doesn’t give a monkey’s about anyone else.

“She always wants more and always wants the next thing.

“She’s lived her whole life chasing that.”

When Carmen’s ambitions take her down a dark path, it ultimately ends in tragedy.

It’s not something that appeals to Jodie. She said: “There’s more to life than being famous. Our generation is obsessed with it and they’re not thinking what it means.

“I want this to be my lifelong career. If I get well-known for what I do, it means I’m doing a good job but being famous in itself doesn’t really matter.”

Fame is at the Lyceum from March 31 to April 5. Tickets; from the Crucible box office, call 02114 2496000 or go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk