Insider’s View of… RHUL MTS Presents Fame! (Online version)
Rushing across campus unable to locate the Wettons Annexe. Who knew the music department was across the footbridge? Any other director might have been annoyed to have to direct me to their rehearsals three separate times, but such a thing is impossible of the wonderful Frankie Fowler-Burtwell.
She takes me up to a tiny room at the top of the building with a rather over-sized piano, where I meet Faye Ralph and Cyrus Dean, who are the choreographer and musical director respectively, and cast member Laura Walker. The interview begins with a bit of performance, Cyrus accompanies with Laura as she sings ‘Let’s Make a Love Scene’ and ‘Think of Meryl Streep’ wonderfully. By the end of the second song, I feel quite overcome by it all.
I direct my first questions to Laura. Does she relate to her character, Serena, at all? Laura is a second year History and Music student who shares her character Serena’s love of acting. She’s been a member of MTS since the start of her first year and is quite the old hand, having taking part in the first year show MTS Variations, a hilarious musical take on American sitcom ‘Friends’. I asked her who she takes her inspiration from. Faye immediately cuts in with ‘Faye Ralph’, making Laura smile as she gives her (well, tries to anyway) more serious answer; Idina Menzel. But all in the room seem to be agreement when she says that MTS as a society draw inspiration from each other. “We all sort of bounce off each other”.
I turn to the other three, the production team of this musical marvel. What made you want to bid for this? Faye and Cyrus immediately say “Frankie”. “Why Fame?” I ask her. The list of reasons is almost endless. Frankie’s Dad was in an amateur production of Fame himself a few years ago, and the soundtrack has earned a permanent place on her iPod ever since then. Do you feel like your parents set a certain standard you had to live up to, I ask? I get a surprisingly independent answer. She describes her ideas for the production was “very me-driven”; this may be a show set in the 80s, but her ideas certainly aren’t in the past. The idea to bid for an MTS production came her two years ago as a first year, but it was only this year she felt confident enough that she would win the bid. Clearly, there is no one at RHUL better suited to make this a roaring success.
Speaking of modern ideas, I mention something I’d seen on the internet about the most recent UK Fame Tour this year, a super modern adaptation replacing the classic neon leg warmers with iPads and texting. Is this something we can expect in the forthcoming production? “YES!” Faye shouted excitedly. “Yeah, no…” Frankie cut in.
I feel like now is the right time to pull out a silly question. “When you realised that you had got into the show, or won your bid, did it feel like you’d made PA?”
“No,” says Frankie. “When the show goes on, then it will feel like we’ve made it.”
Come and watch Fame in the SU Main Hall between the 15th and 18th November (with a matinee performance on the Sunday). Tickets will be £5 for students, and £7 for everyone else.