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Fame Review

Fame is back! It was inspirational in 1980 and it is still inspirational in 2009. This spirit lifting, adrenaline rushing, song and dance inspiring musical masterpiece is not for young children though, regardless of its greatness, because of teen drinking, sexuality and language. Let the children grow up first before imbibing of this nectar—it will be out on DVD for a long time.

Fame is the reality-and-angst side of High School Musical (undeniably great in its own right), and I'll wager the remake was inspired by High School Musical. The cast includes a Zac Efron type, a Vanessa Hudgens type, an Ashley Tisdale type with floppy long blond hair and a Monique Coleman type. This is not a negative. The world loves the talented and personable stars who came to us from H.S.M., including the sometimes imprudent but lovely Vanessa Hudgens and Lucas Grabeel who inexplicably lost so much weight between H.S.M. and H.S.M. 2. The Fame kids will thunder their ways into our hearts just as thoroughly—and a bit more dynamically—as the H.S.M. kids.

Fame tells the story of a performing arts high school in New York, New York. It starts on audition day (as one of the trailers shows) then journeys through four years of hard work, dreams, mid-terms and finally dreams come true and fame attained—or not. The students are singers, dancers, percussionists, dramatic students. They jump and vocalize and spin and weave suspended belief to a glorious staccato of rhythm and harmony and words. You will love Fame. And just as the original did in 1980, the music will pulse through your veins, the songs will spin through your mind, the rhythms will beat through your bones...I predict an increase in dance and singing and instrument classes all over the country. (Parents...check your budgets!)

A bonus is given us because the delightful duo of Frasier and Lilith are in Fame reunite! That's right! The dance teacher, Lyn Kraft, is played by the one and only Bebe Neuwirth of Cheers and Chicago fame. And Bebe looks great. Kelsey Grammer, also known as Frasier, from TV's Cheers and Frasier, is the music teacher. It is wonderful to have these two back together in the same production—and on the silver screen, no less. Another great "She's back!" is Debbie Allen as Principal Simms. Allen played the hard driving Lydia in the original Fame, screenplay by Christopher Gore.

The student star is Naturi Naughton whose first role was in Notorious (director, George Tillman Jr.) released in January 2009. In Fame Naughton plays Denise and shines as a star student who can play the piano to perfection and deliver a standing-ovation-spine-tingling song. The co-stars are Kay Panabaker and Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, along with some of the guys like Walter Hutton, Paul McGill and Collins Pennie. The current screenplay is by Allison Burnett with Christopher Gore.

Fame 2009, directed by Kevin Tancharoen, is a do see for mature adolescents and adults who want a rousing good time with song and dance and a little inspiration added to their lives. And as I said, let the less mature and younger kids wait to see Fame: They can catch it on DVD soon enough.

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