Generally speaking, for me watching a musical is like going to the dentist: I just know at some point it’s going to hurt. I may not know when, or in some instances even how, but pain is pretty much a given.
Which is why I tend to avoid musicals (and dentists), though in reference to the former what bothers me more is when characters sing in dance in situations that don’t warrant such behavior–as if there are that many situations that would.
And then there’s Fame, which is brilliant. It was directed by Alan Parker, who did the equally remarkable–for entirely different reasons–Midnight Express (a film that had such a effect on me that I wanted nothing to do with Turkey, till I learned that the screenwriter, Oliver Stone, took a whole lot of liberties with his screenplay).
Fame takes place at the High School of Performing Arts, which at least puts all the singing and dancing in some sort of context.
But what’s most important is the tenor of the performances, which are all pretty good though deserving of special mention are Paul McCrane (Montgomery) and Ralph (Paul Miller), who bring an honesty and vulnerability to their roles that I am not entirely sure was on the page.
There has already been a reboot in 2009, which I haven’t seen–though if I had known Charles S. Dutton was in it I might have changed my mind, especially since he has the uncanny ability of elevating just about everything he turns up in.
in 1982, prior to the last reboot there was a series on NBC based on Fame as well, though it had relatively little of the edge that made the movie so effective.
Fame TV Series Opening
Though I wasn’t aware that they were still exploiting the memory of those dancing and angsty teens, there’s apparently there’s a play based on the movie going on in London (or at least there was as of last year).
Fame: The Musical