Reviewed by Tatum Stafford
Fame’s beloved tagline “Remember my name” is very fitting when it comes to the talented cast HAMA Productions have assembled for this high-energy and highly enjoyable show, which played at Crown Theatre this April.
Both the leading cast members and the incredibly fit and energetic ensemble members worked beautifully to present the intertwined storylines of students at a performing arts high school. The multi-level set, designed by Bryan Woltjen, was effective in bringing the audience into different wings of the school, including ballet studios, locker rooms, classrooms and other performance spaces.
Within the student cohort, there were brilliant performances by Rechelle Mansour, who wowed in the dynamic role of Carmen, displaying fantastic dance ability and a powerhouse voice. G. Madison IV and Taylah Small were a powerhouse duo, with Madison’s charming vocals, impressive choreo and cheeky smile, and Small’s formidable ballet technique and poise.
Other stand-outs included Elaina O’Connor’s powerhouse belt and bouncy scenework as the effervescent Serena Katz, Isaac Diamond’s cool and confident Nick Piazza, Greg Jarema’s lovable Schlomo Metzenbaum and Paige Fallu’s gorgeous work as Mabel Washington; a character which is unfortunately dealt most of the show’s ‘cheap’ jokes. Shanice-Kalina Thompson brought plenty of sass as the fierce drummer ‘Lampchops’, and James Bell enjoyed a few well-deserved laughs in his memorable turn as Joe Vegas.
As for the teachers, we were in for a real treat when Lucy Williamson’s Miss Sherman and Mia Simonette’s Ms Bell battled in an incredibly powerful duet that showcased both of their extensive vocal ranges beautifully. Great work also from Manuao TeAotonga as Mr Meyers, and Igor Sas as Mr Sheinkopf.
The real MVP of this production, however, is Dani Papa’s captivating choreography. Every ensemble member turned, kicked and executed each movement with impressive precision, flair and individuality that blended together superbly. Fame is a very dance-heavy show, and Papas’ work allows every performer on the stage to shine, and also, to be seen and enjoyed from every angle of the Crown Theatre.
Marvellous work also by musical director Harry Oliff, who leads a live band that are visible on the second level of the industrial-style set, and sound fantastic. Adam Mitchell’s direction makes good use of every inch of the set and stage, and provided some of the more insular and quiet moments in Act II with plenty of intention thanks to clever staging and some great lighting choices (lighting design by Lucy Birkinshaw).
All in all, this is a really fun production filled with local and national talent that will definitely be remembered by Perth theatregoers as a stand-out production for 2022. Kudos to all involved, and I look forward to seeing HAMA’s next outing hopefully very soon.