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24 September 2014

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By Jonathan Jacob

Fame is coming to the Alexandra Theatre and right here is where the kids of Birmingham are gonna start paying - in sweat!


Over 100 young people aged between 10 and 21, let loose in one of Birmingham's most prestigious theatres but with only two weeks to put on a production - rather them than me!

That's the state of affairs for the Alexandra Theatre's Summer Youth Project in which every summer they put on a fully fledged musical - and this year, it's Fame. The all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza inspired by the Oscar-winning movie!

Everyday from 10am till 8pm, the range of youngsters dip in and out of a warm ups, runs and rehearsals - as well as plenty of time for good social chatter. Tensions are very high as they have such a short time to put on such a large scale musical.

They have to learn all the dance routines and steps, all the vocal arrangements and harmonies and the full script - under the guidance of a professional creative team (they were all theatre lovies - bless 'em!).

how it all started

Open auditions (this is where anyone can audition, on the day) were held in the auditorium in June.

Cast member, Andrew Morris from Sutton Coldfield explains the audition process. "It was a long audition process. It started off on a Saturday morning. We were broken up into two groups with the first half of the alphabet in the morning (which I was in) and the second half in the afternoon. In the auditions we had to do some singing and dancing the main song ('Fame, I'm Gonna Live Forever!'), on the stage in groups of ten. If you passed that, you got called back to the Sunday.

On the Sunday, we got here about 1pm and the day was made up of two rounds - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning one was just singing and dancing. I got through that and had another one in the afternoon, where you had to learn a 'scene' and act it out. The roles were then given out to whoever did well in that. I got the role of Drama Teacher, Mr Myers"

jj at rehearsals

I went along one sunny (ish) afternoon to see what was going on, during their fifth day of rehearsals. It was quite a 'mish-mash' of things, with different groups working on different scenes for the first part of the afternoon (like dance routines, duo dialogue or characterisation and a practice with the band in different areas of the theatre) which culminated in a run-through of the first act at 4 'o' clock - with all the dancing and singing on the stage.

I had a chat with four different characters from the show.

Stuart I met one of the music students at the 'High School of Performing Arts' called Goody. Well, it was really Stuart of Yardley Wood. Click here to see what Stuart had to say.

I also caught up with three of the teachers from the school, which was nicknamed "PA". I chatted to Miss Sherman, played by Cherrelle (who's recently appeared on Trouble TV's Bump and Grind).

Victoria Miss Bell, the dance teacher is played by Victoria King - who'd give anything to be a singer and is currently looking for a management deal. Click here to see what Victoria had to say.
Andrew Meet Mr Myers, the Drama Teacher at PA - well, ok, it's Andrew Morris of Sutton Coldfield. He's done loads of theatre work before, you know - from Les Mis to Jesus Christ Superstar!

Everyone seemed really friendly and as soon as they saw my BBC pass and the camera, all the young girls were acting like my best friend! Haha! Can't moan I suppose can you - enjoy it while it lasts - and I ended up taking pictures of loads of people.

There were so many different types of people there from across the city and it was really good to see everyone get along really well and mix in such a demanding environment.

Fame tells the story of a class of young wannabes studying at the New York School of Performing Arts in the 1980's, and their struggle to make their mark at school and to realise their dreams of success and stardom. Featuring the songs, 'I Want To Make Magic, Let's Play a Love Scene, and the world famous title track, Fame seems like a summer treat for old and young alike.

The show had the most cheesiest, fake American accents you'd ever heard - but everyone picked them up really well. The standard of the young performers was of really good quality, bearing it mind for many this is their first time up on stage, they were very impressive and I think they'll pull it off - no problems.

Keep an eye out for the review of the show!

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