Also known as Fame on 42nd Street, this was one of the biggest disappointments to play New York in the whole decade. It’s based, obviously, on the classic musical movie of the same name. The plot bears only a slight resemblance to that of the film, with different characters and subplots and many of the more controversial elements toned down, but the show’s biggest problem is the music.
The score is also wholly re-written, with only the title number retained from the film, which sounds like a good move until you actually hear the new songs. A few of the tunes are okay, particularly the gospel-flavored showstopper “These Are My Children”, but the lyrics are unbearably puerile, at one point rhyming ‘Checkov’ with ‘guillotine the villain’s neck off’.
Low points include “Tyrone’s Rap”, which is about as convincing as Vanilla Ice, “Mabel’s Prayer”, which is essentially a musicalized fat joke, and “Can’t Keep It Down”, a song whose subject I will not go into for reasons of taste, but which is easily one of the worst songs of the decade.
This show has gained a certain popularity with regional groups because of its pre-sold title and modest production demands, but there is absolutely no reason to see it when you could be watching the film instead.