Neon legwarmers were abandoned in the back along with any expectations for a stage version of the latest Fame movie, in which the setting of a modern day American performing arts school thrusts hip hop, tap, ballet and contemporary dance into the same spotlight.
Instead, the Swish of the Curtain Theatre School set the scene for the 1980’s – a time before the majority of the talented young cast were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eyes.
But behind their angelic faces they were to bravely delve into more adult minds, with themes of sex, prejudice and drug-use prevailing in scenes between musical numbers from the original soundtrack.
The lead roles, at first, were characture-ish; two dimensional portrayals of the token nerd, the It-girl, the one-who-goes-unnoticed and the drama school diva-boy – all outdone by the Spanish stallion’s three-minute musical ode to morning glory.
But by the opening of the second half, the actors’ had matured to an admirable level, exceeding even the years of their characters, whose journey of self-discovery unfolds within their school’s semesters.
Relationships onstage were dynamic and intriguing; between ballerina, Iris Kelly, and foul-mouthed Tyrone Jackson as well as social outcast Schlomo Metzenbaum and his exotic Carmen Diaz.
But the romance belonged to acting class sweethearts Serena Katz and Nick Piazza with their darling duet of “Let’s Play a Love Scene” showing off two incredibly powerful voices.
Comedy, meanwhile, was encapsulated in the characters of girl-crazy Jose Vegas and food-loving, diet-pill-popping dancer, Mabel Washington – who both had the crowd eating out of their hands.
A strong chorus – including dozens of adorable ‘Fame, The Musical’ children – showed off harmonies which should have earned the Bournemouth based group the top-spot of Channel 5’s “Don’t Stop Believing” last year, where instead they finished as runners up.
Dancing was strong in areas of ballet and modern, and an ensemble number lead by rapper Tyrone filled the theatre with a funky urban vibe.
But emotion was not lost in the action. Plaid-clad head-teacher Miss Sherman showed her human side in a touching version of “These are my children” while Carmen’s vulnerability beneath her faultless vocals made hairs on the back of the neck stand up during a memorable and heart-wrenching solo performance of “In LA.”
By the time the Fame logo descended over all the vitality of the final song – the highly anticipated title number - the Swish of the Curtain Theatre School had proved themselves as triple threats; singers, dancers and actors. A name to be remembered.