Well, the only way is up, and on November 29 and 30 the school will perform its most ambitious show to date: Fame, the Musical.
The musical, loosely based on the film and television series of the same name, throws open the doors of New York’s celebrated High School for the Performing Arts and follows the students from their admission in 1980 to their graduation in 1984 as they struggle for success in the most illustrious of industries.
To borrow the title of season six, episode five of the series, Fame is “All Talking, All Singing, All Dancing”.
To find out more about what audiences can expect, I spoke to Director of Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) Erika Cramp who is working overtime with Dance Programme Manager Fabienne Mester, Drama Coordinator Hayley Milner and drama teacher Joel Adams to bring Fame to life.
We meet in the department office where a mini makeshift stage takes pride of place on the table and crates of colourful costumes are stacked high, each a miniature treasure trove of performances past.
Erika explains that, while the team chose Fame while still buzzing with adrenaline as soon as the curtain fell on their last performance, they’re confident that both the CAPA Academy and the Dance Academy are up to the challenge.
“It’s definitely the hardest show we’ve ever done. The harmonies are intense and the dancing is insane. It goes from ballet to modern to hip-hop,” says Erika. “But, for most of the kids, it’s their fifth year in the academy, and they’ve performed for even longer, so they’re ready. I've told them that when they pull this off, they can be really, really proud of themselves.”
The cast of 25 was chosen back in August, and rehearsals began in earnest in September. Students have pored over their lines and relished each opportunity to make the characters their own, even when that’s meant squeezing in after-school and weekend rehearsals. And with acid-washed denim and oversized band T-shirts back in fashion, they’ve been able to supply some of their own costumes too, albeit accidentally.
“Instead of amazing wardrobe and scene changes, the show really focuses on the singing, dancing and acting. It brings out the talent,” says Erika.
But Fame isn’t just a CAPA and Dance Academy effort. What’s wonderful about HeadStart productions is their inclusivity. The graphics team has designed the backdrop of a dusky New York skyline, the computing department has created an online ticket platform, and the stairs on set were carefully constructed by design technology in the style of school lockers.
On the night, the art department will be on hair and make-up duty, drama students will become stagehands, and a number of talented teachers will perform in the live band.
And those who aren’t involved in the run up are sure to be a supportive presence in the audience. Be sure you’re right there with them.
HeadStart International School will perform Fame, the Musical on November 29 and 30 at 6pm. Tickets are available here.