Times change but the issues remain in the Fame game

Jorgie Porter and Jamal Kane Crawford as Iris and Tyrone in Fame
Jorgie Porter and Jamal Kane Crawford as Iris and Tyrone in Fame
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The musical Fame may be 30 years old this year - and the film which inspired the stage show is heading towards its 40th anniversary, but the issues examined through the stage school story stay just as relevant today, according to the show’s cast.

Taking time out during their run at the Opera House, cast members Keith Jack and Jamal Kane Crawford spoke to Anna Cryer about their roles.

Keith Jack in Fame

Keith Jack in Fame

Jamal, who plays Tyrone - a poor, dyslexic, streetwise street dancer who falls in love with classical ballet and wealthy ballet student Iris - said he’s been amazed at people’s reactions to the show, which is in its fourth week of a new UK tour.

READ MORE: Gazette reporters try out as kids from Fame
“I’m portraying a character a lot of people can relate to in a strong way,” he said. “I was nearly in tears last week with a dyslexic boy who came to stage door, with his mum and gran in tears after seeing it.

“It really hit me that you’re not just playing this character, and I enjoy that - being able to connect with people you’ve never met through that character you’re creating.”

Keith Jack came to fame on the TV talent show Any Dream Will Do, coming runner up to Lee Mead in the search for a new Joseph.

The cast of Fame

The cast of Fame

And his character challenged with finding himself during the show.

“Nick is an actor, who got lucky with a commercial as a kid but wants to go to Performing Arts - the Fame school - to become a real actor, rather than being seen as a cute kid.

“He starts to learn his craft, meets a girl, and then is struggling to work out what to do about that.

“This and all my jobs since have been like my training. The character got lucky and got a TV gig and has gone back to training, and I got lucky with the TV show and have had to hone my craft since then.”

And this new production works across the generations. “What I love about the show is you can come five different nights and see five different stories,” Keith added. “People relate to it for different reasons, but the show deals with a lot of issues, and while the show is 30 years old, things have got better, but the issues are still there.

“In 80s America to see a black guy fall in love with a white girl, was a big thing. Put it on stage now, and young people think ‘So what’, but older people say ‘I remember that being a problem’.”

And just one night into their Blackpool run, Jamal was impressed with the Opera House audience: “You get a different vibe in each city, but it really hit us how loud they are here,” he said.

“And that really helps us to feed off it on stage.”

* Fame: The Musical, Opera House, Blackpool, until Saturday.