The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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‘Fame’: a moving musical movie

For anyone who has ever had a dream, Kevin Tancharoen’s new film “Fame” will inspire your heart and test your limits.

This charming narrative follows the lives of the shyest students at the classical Performing Arts High School in New York City from freshman to senior year, as they all reach for one thing: that one big break.

The movie opens on audition day at Performing Arts in a crowd of nervous chaos, as potential students rehearse music, monologues and dance steps.

Group by group, the kids usher into tryout halls where they display their souls to seemingly unimpressed judges. These scenes appear in overlapping tryout routines, evidence of exquisite directing by Tancharoen.

One comical boy, later identified as Neil (Paul Iacono), belts out a cheery song while the dramatic Asian actress Joy (Anna Maria Perez de Tagle) recites a movie scene where her every movement is choreographed to Neil’s song.

Alternative keyboardist Victor (Walter Perez) makes the cut, although his tryout piece is far from the style of Performing Arts. He’s joined by Kevin (Paul McGill), the dancer who is never good enough, Jenny (Kay Panabaker), the uptight actress, Malik (Collins Pennie), the aspiring rapper, Denise (Naturi Naughton), the flawless yet unhappy pianist, Marco (Asher Book), the boy with “the voice,” and Alice (Kherington Payne), potentially “the best dancer in the school.”

Freshman year is full of surprises and adjustments as the teens adapt to life at a specialty school. During one lunch, students fill the cafeteria in groups, each practicing his or her respective talent.

The addition of a guitar amplifier invokes a musical uprising from the whole student body – not your average food fight. Tap dancers on tables, rap battles, string quartet solos and vocal harmonies that blow off the roof of the school.

Yet after the hype of their first year, the students find themselves discouraged by professors and parents as sophomores. Sensitive feelings surface and uniqueness is tamed.

The conflict reaches peak with Denise’s vocal debut, “Out Here On My Own.” These rough patches provoke rebelliousness performed in Performing Arts’ CarnEvil, a school dance that sends the viewer on an acid trip through Paris’s famed Moulin Rouge.

Junior year commences with reinstalled hope and blooming opportunity. Neil lands a short film while Malik, Denise and Victor pitch a song to a record label; and Joy snags a gig on “Sesame Street.”

Within a few short weeks, however, the na’veté of pre-adulthood takes over and truths of the “real world” shadow the students’ ambition.

Ultimately, “Fame” is a tale of self-discovery within the peaks and downfalls of life as an artistically talented teen.

It’s a story about love, hardship and dedication. It’s a musical where the songs aren’t arbitrary or conversational – they represent everyday life.

The students embark on a mission to determine what they would do for fame. But the journey is stark and will leave viewers wondering what “fame” really is.

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