By Barb Brouwer
To some, fame is the elixir of life, with many seeking it from a very early age.
Based on the pop-culture film and television series of the 1980s, Salmon Arm Secondary’s Grade 11 and 12 Musical Theatre program presents Fame JR.
Teacher Danielle Berger says the appropriately family friendly musical is set during the last years of New York City’s celebrated High School for the Performing Arts.
Music Theatre International, One of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, describes the production as the bittersweet, but ultimately inspiring, story of a diverse group of students who commit to four years of grueling artistic and academic work.
Meet fame-obsessed, confident but cocky dancer Carmen, shy but ambitious actress Serena, wisecracking comedian Joe, quiet violinist Schlomo, talented but dyslexic Ty, overweight dancer Mabel and talented but insecure dancer Iris.
It’s incredible,” says Berger of the music familiar to adults who grew up in the ’80s. “It’s a mixture between high-energy group numbers with high- intensity dancing mixed in with slow, ballad love songs.”
Berger says the vocal talent in this production is quite impressive, something she attributes to the help received from talented Andréa Roberts, who was the lead in Shuswap Theatre’s Mary Poppins.
“She has come to us once a week for three months while I was working on dance choreography and blocking,” Berger says enthusiastically. “We couldn’t have done it without her and we wouldn’t have wanted to do it without her.”
Berger is equally enthusiastic about this year’s Grade 11/12 musical theatre students that take on many roles – among them, performers, lighting technicians and a stage manager, who who helps with costumes and other tasks that make Berger’s life easier.
“I don’t think I have ever had such a well-working, well-oiled co-operative team,” she raves. “There are no issues; it’s the sweetest hardworking team, always willing to do what I ask them.”
Reading through scripts while on maternity leave, Berger came across Fame JR. Berger looked at the play’s strong dance component and thought it would be the perfect challenge for her next production.
Given that her students had not yet been born while the original Fame was in production, Berger gave them a small hint about what they would be working on every day, rather than spilling the beans right away.
“By the end of the two weeks, a couple of the kids had guessed and they were all excited by the announcement.”
Members of the public are invited to attend the production, which runs at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31, with a 1 p.m. matinee on Saturday, June 1.
Tickets at $10 are available at the SAS Sullivan office or at the door, but there are no guarantees there will be tickets left on the night of the performance.
“We’re hoping to sell out,” laughs Berger, proudly proclaiming her students will put on an awesome performance. “I love coming to work every day.”