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A new generation earns 'Fame' at BayWay Arts Center

A shot from

A shot from "Fame: The Musical," at BroadHollow's BayWay Arts Center in East Islip. Photo Credit: Handout

Perhaps "Fame" is "gonna live forever," as the title song goes. The musical adapted from the 1980s movie and TV series has been revived and revised to embrace current pop references (Chris Rock) and technology (cell phones). This forerunner to Disney's "High School Musical" and Fox's "Glee" may have found another generation of audiences.

At BroadHollow's BayWay Arts Center, director Jason Allyn has assembled an energetic cast. Its members, costumed in random teenage garb, can actually pass for teenagers. We meet the kids on the day they've been accepted into New York's LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

The story revolves around six of them. Schlomo (Tyler Boyle), who's striving to emerge from the shadow of his violin-virtuoso father, befriends Carmen (Nicole Fragala), an aspiring actress who can't wait for "Fame." Fragala knocks the song out of the park in the Act I highlight.

Serena, appealingly shy as played by Jaclyn Casano, has a thing for Nick (Dylan Bustamante), who may or may not be gay. Casano sings her broken heart out for her craft in "Think of Meryl Streep," an Act II highlight.

Iris (Kira Christoforidis) is snubbed by kids who think she's rich because she arrives to school in a limo. They don't realize her dad's a chauffeur. A ballerina, Iris pairs with TJ (Nik Sorocenski), who longs to be a choreographer but is hampered by a learning disability. The English teacher, played by Brenda Festo, who delivers an emotive "These Are My Children," threatens to flunk him.

Amid all this earnestness, comic relief comes in the form of a loudmouth, boisterously played by Gary Richardson, who's nobody's idea of Romeo opposite Serena's Juliet, and Becki Walter as the dancer who eats her way out of her art and her tutu.

Allyn, who also plays a teacher, and Jennifer Gaylor choreograph a restrained pas de deux or two and several exuberant show-dance numbers. Captain Christiana Totten and dance partner Bradford Cooper are especially nimble.

Gary Eisele leads a four-piece live orchestra that delivers a surprisingly big sound. Unfortunately, it's too big for underamplified players on the upper level of Nicholas Schwartz's two-tier schoolhouse set. Too bad. A fine orchestra and cast of singers are, at times, wasted on a faulty sound mix and scratchy microphones.

"Fame, the Musical": Friday and Saturday nights at 8, Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at BroadHollow's BayWay Arts Center, 265 E. Main St., East Islip, 631-581-2700,

Info: $16, $14 seniors and students, $14 for kids younger than 12


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