CARROLLWOOD — Even though the original movie and play came out years before some of the current cast members were born, the situations and songs remain relevant, whether in New York City or Carrollwood.
The Carrollwood Players Theatre and Theatre By Young People will present the musical “Fame Jr.” from Aug. 16 to Aug. 25, at the Carrollwood Playhouse.
Set from 1980 to 1984, the last years of New York City’s renowned High School for the Performing Arts on 46th Street, Fame Jr. is an inspiring story of a group of students as they go through four years of intensive artistic and academic work. The humorous and insightful show contains many issues that even today confront many young people. “Fame Jr.” is adapted for young performers.
During a recent rehearsal at the theatre, the cast of 14 youths and four adults went over lines, songs and dance routines, under the guidance of director Carlyn Postal, a director-actor who’s been with The Carrollwood Players since 1996. She said the Theatre By Young People does one play per summer, giving actors from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties a place to hone their skills while school is out.
Postal, assisted by musical director Raymie Polk, 16, and choreographer Stephen Antonelli, said the play is a reality-based musical and many of the situations the actors portray, they or a classmate have encountered in real life.
“It’s a musical comedy. It takes high school kids and shows the happiness and drama that goes with the four incredible high school years,” Postal said. “They’re actually experiencing some of these things; they can relate to the play.”
Actors Hayley Muley, 19, and Mike Mekus, 16, watched from the theater seats as Postal ran through the lines and songs of Act II. Muley, a sophomore at Jacksonville University who’s been acting since she was 5, said what makes “Fame Jr.” strong is the ability of the performers to breath their personal experiences and goals into the scenes.
“We all act, dance and sing; it’s a triple-threat show,” said Muley of Lutz. “Basically, what we’re doing in this show is what everyone is trying to achieve in real life.”
The cast is costumed in period attire, complete with leg warmers, suspenders, big belts, sparkles, blue eye shadow and waist-high blue jeans, not average outfits for the youth of 2013. Mekus, who will be a junior at River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, said figuratively transporting back to the early 1980s has been an eye-opening experience and the audiences should get a kick of the trip back in time.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I love that it is real for everyone in the show,” Mekus said. “It’s close to home, we’re playing similar people to ourselves.”