The original post for this episode can now be found here.
Transcriptions by: Masha Latvinava
Fame: The Musical – Episode #124 – January 14, 2021
JESS: Hidey-ho, Musicals with Cheese fans. I'm here for a small disclaimer. There were some audio issues that we had with this episode. And by we, I mean Brendon, our guest of Wait in the Wings. As soon as we were done recording, his entire audio software just exploded out on him, deleting his entire audio. And since we couldn't recreate the magic that was on this episode, unfortunately, we're gonna have to use the StreamYard recording which is a mixed down file, so Bree is unable to edit individual audio tracks here. So, if the sound is a little distracting to you, you can go yell at Brendon. His Twitter is at @waitwings. Really. You can just go yell at him. Even if it's not that bothering to you. You can yell at him anyway. You know? Just about Beetlejuice or some shit. What I'm telling you now is mob justice all the way over to Wait in the Wings on Twitter and just yell at him. But despite the audio, this is a wonderful episode with a lot of laughs and you're gonna have a great time. You will immediately understand why we didn't just rerecord because this was such magic lightning in a bottle that we couldn't recreate. So, enjoy the episode, kids.
JESS: Hello, I'm Jesse McAnally.
ANDREW: And I am Andrew DeWolf.
BRIANNA: And I'm Brianna Jones.
JESS: And welcome to Musicals with Cheese, a podcast where I try to get Andrew and Bree to like musical theater, and today we have a very okay guest. One of the okay-est, in fact.
ANDREW: It's actually just Jess but from the Dark Dimension.
JESS: Yes, it is my evil twin. He is the host of Wait in the Wings and maybe my arch nemesis or best friend and/or clone from a Dark Dimension - Brendon Henderson. Yay.
JESS: Studio audience applause. But throw a couple boos in there too, Bree. You gotta mix it.
BRENDON: Boo. I'll give them to you. Boo. Make your videos shorter. Stop using star metaphors. Boo.
JESS: Star metaphors?
BRENDON: Yeah, that's the Beetlejuice one. That's what everyone says in the comments every day. Or it was the Rewriting Seussical video and this lady - her name was Dorothy - and she just wrote “Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty called and they're too busy with their Broadway millions to give a shit about your stupid opinion.”
ANDREW: They’re rich. You’re not.
JESS: I wanna send that to Ben Brentley one day. “They're too rich to care about your stupid opinions.”
BRENDON: I was like, “This is the first video where I put my face on it and then they were mean.” And I’m like, “I’m not doing this anymore.”
JESS: You have a beautiful, beautiful face. It's like looking in a handsome mirror.
BRENDON: It's a face made for podcasting. Let's put it that way. That's –
JESS: You look wonderful. Shut the fuck up. But you are the reason why I had to watch Fame. So I am angry at you.
BRENDON: I did no such thing. You messaged me and said, “Hey, do you want to come on and talk about Fame?”
JESS: You’re right, shit. You're right. You're right. This is a Patreon request.
ANDREW: This is where we get to shit on the people that give us money.
JESS: Yes, yes. And this guy - this motherfucker –
ANDREW: Piece of shit.
JESS: No, no, no. It's Joseph Evans Green, who has also made us watch We Will Rock You? Like –
ANDREW: This guy absolutely hates us. He is the worst person in our patrons and we love him. Please give us more money.
BRENDON: It was probably - I'd say it's got the second best song about an erection in musical theater history.
JESS: Third. All right, this is Fame. Cue the music, Bree.
JESS: Fame is a musical with music by Steve Margoshes. And lyrics by Jacques Levy and a book by José Fernandez, based on the 1980 film musical of the same name. The musical premiered in 1988 in Miami, Florida - because all great things come from Miami, Florida. It performed Off-Broadway at the Little Shubert Theater on 42nd Street from 2003 to 2004. It ran for, you know, whatever performances and never hit Broadway, so - But since its first production, Fame the musical has had hundreds of professional and amateur productions in every major language. So, this is a very well-performed show –
JESS: I guess.
BRENDON: It's a high school production. That's how I felt watching the London thing – it’s like, “This is a really good high school show.”
JESS: But it tells the story of several students who attend the school, among them fame-obsessed Carmen, ambitious actress Serena, wisecracking comedian/bad boy Joe, quiet violinist Schlomo, "talented but dyslexic" dancer Tyrone, determined actor Nick, overweight dancer Mabel, and a serious dancer, Iris, from a poor family.
ANDREW: They were characters in this?
BRENDON: I forgot they had names. I just referred to them as - Who was like, “I want to be Stanislavski”? He was in a peanut butter commercial, so I just wrote him down in my notes – Peanut Butter. I wrote down his love interest as discount Miranda Sings.
JESS: So, Brendon - You have a history with Fame. You know about the move and all the adaptations and what came about it? How did this stand up to what you knew about Fame and your connection to Fame?
BRENDON: Are you serious? So, I try to - I told you this last night, I always try to give shows the benefit of the doubt, and I try to find the positives. You can't do it with this show.
ANDREW: Oh, no.
BRENDON: It's literally nothing. I can't find anything redeemable about this show. Maybe, uh, the dancing school?
ANDREW: Is it? I don't - I feel like the dancing, going to the dancing, is the last refuge.
BRENDON: You know with when they were putting on Cats? And they're like, “Oh, god, we have to find dancers who can act and sing.” That's kind of like what I felt Fame was trying to do. But they could only find people who could dance.
JESS: Let's put that on the poster, Brendon.
ANDREW: You know, Cats is an interesting one to go to. That's another show I'd say, “Yeah, the dancing was good.”
JESS: There certainly was Cats, yeah, there certainly was people that wanted to be famous. This show bothers me in 900 different ways is the thing. It has a very anti-intellectual belief. It doesn't believe in higher education in any way whatsoever.
ANDREW: It doesn't believe in arts either. To be honest.
BRENDON: Give me your money. We're gonna sing that one song that you hear on the station. And then you can leave after 40 minutes.
ANDREW: They give us -
JESS: - an intermission.
ANDREW: They give us two numbers back to back where one of them is “Mozart is bad because your teacher likes Mozart, right? Like, rock music's way cooler. So, like, Mozart bad.” And then the next one is, “Ballet is bad, because you know, hip hop is cooler. Like, sick.”
JESS: “Reading bad because you dance.”
ANDREW: Yeah, “Reading bad, could dance.”
BRENDON: That’s what doesn’t make sense, is later on in the show, when he's reading the Superman comic, and the teacher says, “Hey, you think you're so smart? Read that for me.” But it's like, you know that he can't read, you dick.
ANDREW: Also, isn't this like - maybe I'm wrong - I was under the impression this is some sort of specialty high school? Like, wouldn't there be an entrance exam?
BRENDON: Well, it's based off of an actual school. it's called High School of Performing Arts in New York. So, what's interesting about it is that it's a public school, but you get different people from all walks of life who can come audition to be a part of this. I'm spacing on –
ANDREW: I would assume part of the entrance exam and the audition process, though, would be, “Can you read?”
BRENDON: It's mainly just auditioning. But you know, like, if you're gonna do - I don't know. It would have been nice if they'd actually shown the auditions so we can figure out how they got in here.
ANDREW: I don't know. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being dyslexic or being illiterate. If that's your background, you know, that's whatever, you know. You can work through that. The teacher doesn't attempt to help him though, she's just antagonistic. She's just like, “You're illiterate? You shouldn't be allowed to be a dancer because you're illiterate. What are you gonna do? Mop floors?” Like, jeez.
BRENDON: “And now let me sing a song about how much I love my students.”
ANDREW: Yeah, “I love my students, except for the ones that can't read.”
BRENDON: “Sorry, sorry, Tyrone. I didn't know.” Like, you fucking did.
JESS: Yeah, you're the only one that knew. My favorite is the duet between that teacher and the dance teacher, like, “Give him a chance.” She's like, “I'm not giving him no chances.”
BRENDON: And it’s like, where did that even come from?
ANDREW: Aren't you a teacher? Shouldn't your whole goal be to teach him how to read? You're an English teacher. That's your job.
JESS: If he can't read, kind of that's on you.
BRENDON: And this is another problem - is, as you mentioned that whole song where the teachers are dueting. It's what has happened before that makes me think, “Okay, this makes sense that this teacher is standing up for him.” Every big decision - No, every decision in this show is unconnected and unmotivated in any way. I wrote a list down of different things that are just thrown in for the shit of throwing it in because they're like, “Hey, this makes sense.” Let's see –
JESS: I want to apologize, first and foremost, to Jagged Little Pill for calling that a PSA. My God, I didn't know.
BRENDON: It's like, here we go: Rich girl. Oh, she's not rich. Where did that come from? Literally the second time that you see Peanut Butter and Miranda Sings on stage, they're like, “Hey, I love you.” Random cheating. And this is like, this rich girl has been carrying you the whole way through. Where was that established? Nothing connects. It's just thrown just for the sake of throwing it in in.
ANDREW: And like, this is the type of thing where at the end, you would look back and you're like, “Oh, okay. The moral of the story, you know, this is for kids. Like, you know, here's the moral.” What is the moral here? Like, don't do drugs?
BRENDON: Yeah. Don't move to California -
ANDREW: - and do drugs. Yeah, that's the moral is don’t move to California.
JESS: Maybe fame is bad is the only thing I got.
ANDREW: I mean, Fame is bad. I don't know about fame. But Fame, the show - pretty bad.
BRENDON: The musical is so bad.
JESS: You know what? Stick to the 2009 movie of the same name, because that is significantly better.
BRENDON: It's sad cus it's true. At least that one had some pretty nice cinematography.
JESS: Yep. Yep. I didn't think we could get worse than the 2009 movie to be honest.
BRENDON: And neither did I.
JESS: Here we are. But I want Andrew to try to describe the plot of this musical really quickly for me.
ANDREW: Yeah, sure.
JESS: Good luck.
ANDREW: There's a bunch of different students – like, too many, like, far too many. And they all have different things going on. And they have different love interests. There's a rock band that's trying to get started, but the teacher doesn't like them because he wants them to play classical music. And that kind of doesn't go anywhere. So nevermind, we'll cut that one out. Then there's the dancer. The dancer who can't he can't read. And that, well, that gets resolved by, you know, I think he learns how to read? I think?
JESS: Does he learn how to read? Did that happen? He was trying to.
BRENDON: He just says, “Hey, screw you. I can dance,” and then they do a big dance number.
ANDREW: He's later seen with a book though. You know, reports say that there was a book in his hands at some point.
JESS: “Reports say.”
ANDREW: There's the rich girl who isn't rich, but people think she's rich. And that doesn't ever come into play again ever. Not even one time.
JESS: Don't forget fat girl. Who isn’t fat at all.
ANDREW: I didn't even remember that this was a thing. But yeah, I guess there's a fat girl, too, who isn't fat.
JESS: “Fat” - big quotation. She's like a size two.
ANDREW: “Guys, it's body positivity. So, you could be really positive about your body if it's not what you say it is. That's body positivity 101. Just say you're fat and not be fat, right? There you go. Look, we did it. Representation in our show.”
JESS: But we got to talk about drug girl, Carmen.
ANDREW: The all-important one. Yeah, she is part of the rock band, kind of. And then she isn't because she moves to LA and then she dies. The end. Spoilers: she dies.
BRENDON: We’re like, “Hey, maybe she’s gonna get her life together,” and then the next scene it's literally like –
JESS: She died of overdose.
ANDREW: She’s dead of overdose. We’re ending the show with her funeral.
JESS: No, with the graduation. And she's like, “We’re gonna dedicate this to Carmen, who died off-screen.”
BRENDON: “I love you!”
JESS: Carmen had to go back to her home planet and died.
ANDREW: There's one more character. There's the - as it says here in our plot synopsis – wisecracking comedian/badboy who wants to be an actor but doesn't want to be Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, which seems like something an actor would want to do. But I guess not.
JESS: What about the girl that wants to sexually assault a guy and then he slowly gets worn down and decides, “You know what? I'll settle for you.”
ANDREW: Oh, yeah, yeah, the one - And she gets like super super angry at him because he might be gay and it's like the most –
JESS: “How dare you be gay.”
BRENDON: And then she sings a whole song about like, “Here, I want to be Meryl Streep. Like, I'm in the right here.”
ANDREW: Yeah, Meryl Streep. Literally the chorus of the song is just she says Meryl Streep. That's the big –
BRENDON: I think Meryl Streep is the name of the song. Cus I was like, “What song is this?”
ANDREW: Oh my god. It’s so bad.
JESS: So, we love the show, is what we’re saying.
ANDREW: Yeah, we love the show. It's very coherent. And it makes a lot of sense.
BRENDON: You have to realize this is a month’s worth of frustration that's just been pent up. And it just got restated last night, when I -
ANDREW: The thing with the plot too is they skip everything important happening. Like, there's the rock band that wants to become, you know, a thing. And then they just kind of skip two years and the next we know they have a manager and they're a thing. And it's like, “Wow, I guess we could have seen that, but I guess not.” You know? Like they just have –
BRENDON: This musical is the equivalent – like, the stage musical version of The Room, where they just introduce seven different stories and then it goes nowhere. It's like, “Hey, I got the results of the test back. It’s definitely dyslexia.”
JESS: They’re curing people every day, Tyrone.
ANDREW: Oh my god. Yeah, Nope. Nothing goes anywhere. There's so many plotlines. Can we streamline this? There are just characters that don't need to exist in the show. Like, they just don't need to be there at all.
BRENDON: The number of characters that they have - and really, if you think about it, the numbers of stories that they have - in the stage version and the movie, they're roughly the same. But the movie just does such a better job of introducing these little plot lines. They treat it like, “Hey, these are vignettes.” So, it's like a peek into where they are at this time that works. Whereas this one, it’s just like, “Introduce this, just because we have to, it's what they did in the movie.” And then it's like, “Okay, we're over here now. Oh god, we only have 30 minutes left, let's kill her.”
ANDREW: “Let’s kill her.” Who is the lead of this? This is a normal length of a stage show. It's two hours – A little bit short. I guess.
JESS: Andrew, Andrew, there's an easy way to figure out who the lead is. And I've been telling you this for years. The way you figure out the lead to any musical is look who has the I want song.
ANDREW: Yeah, I know.
JESS: And who has the I want song? Nick.
BRENDON: Oh, I thought it was gonna be Carmen.
JESS: Which one’s Nick?
BRENDON: Carmen has an I want song.
JESS: I remember. But Nick is the one with the I want song.
BRENDON: Nick was the guy who's like, “I wanna be Stanislavsky.” and then he goes up on stage and he's like, “I'm playing this character – ‘Plagues on both your houses.’” Like that. And I was like, “Oh dear god.”
JESS: Yeah, it's Nick. He wants to make magic. That's his goal. That's his – and does he make magic at the end?
ANDREW: Was he the one that was maybe gay? Like, there was a gay freakout?
ANDREW: He is not the lead. No.
JESS: According to musical theatre structure, he's the one with the I want song in the I want song place.
BRENDON: But, I mean, Carmen has an I want song with “Fame, I want to live forever, and become famous.”
ANDREW: Yeah, but that's halfway through the show.
BRENDON: God, are we gonna really think that there - There was no structure in putting this thing together.
ANDREW: I think Joe is the lead. The actual I want song is Can't Keep It Down, actually.
BRENDON: Yeah, it's Joe’s erection.
JESS: He’s the one with the goal. He just wants to get the attention. I get it. I'm with you.
BRENDON: And Carmen’s like, “You're a pervert.” And then she's singing happy in the background. And I'm like –
JESS: “Yeah, can't keep it down.” “You pervert! Yeah, boners.”
ANDREW: No, like the whole class loves the song even though he's literally singing about him getting an erection at a funeral. Over his relatives having large –
BRENDON: That's a Barenaked Ladies song, isn’t it?
ANDREW: Is it?
JESS: No, no, no, that's a song from Birdemic. “Hanging out with family, got some attractive cousins.”
BRENDON: I was thinking, “I'm the type of guy who laughs a funeral. I have a history of taking off my shirt.” You know that one?
ANDREW: Yeah. I mean, I know that one.
JESS: Moving on. How do you get from the Fame movie to this is my question. Because the Fame movie was very popular –
ANDREW: Can someone explain the Fame movie to me and the audience? Because I have not seen it.
BRENDON: So, the Fame movie, it basically follows the same structure. But what it is, is David De Silva, who was a theater agent, he went and he watched A Chorus Line. And he was listening to, I can't remember which character it is - but there's one where they sing about - She gets in front of the stage and she talks about the time that she was at PA and she had to visualize a bobsled, but she couldn't do it. And the teachers just kept yelling at her and saying, “You'll never be a good actor, blah, blah, blah.” And so, De Silva walked out and he thought, “What if we made a whole film just focused on that character and that idea of these young high schoolers from different walks of New York City coming together in this school, and learning more about who they are as performers, but more importantly, who they are as individuals too?” And I think the biggest takeaway from the Fame movie is, despite its name, the biggest moral is that all the kids in there realize that fame is fleeting and that it's something that shouldn't be really chased. What's more important is figuring out your own identity. And that's what makes it really, at the time, it was the super raw look into the mind of an of an adolescent in high school.
BRENDON: It really taps into that - because it was made in, filming was in 1979, so it still has that 1970s aesthetic of filmmaking where it was director-driven, and it was really focused on stories.
JESS: It’s a gritty looking film.
BRENDON: Yeah, it's rated R. De Silva, he took that idea to Alan Parker, and here's where the conflict starts. So, De Silva, he sold the film, he commissioned to get the script made. He paid like $100,000, then he sold the script for like $4 million. And he just sold the film rights. So Alan Parker came in and he said, “Hey, thanks, Dave. I don't want you to produce this. I'm gonna go with my producer. And we're gonna make our own version of it.” But De Silva held on to the stage rights.
ANDREW: Oh, okay.
BRENDON: So, what you're seeing is De Silva's vision of what he thought the film should be, where it should be this light-hearted thing of, “Hey, let's watch these high schoolers, like basically, Disney-fy it.” Where it's like, “This is great, everything's fantastic.”
ANDREW: This is the clone from the Dark Dimension is what you're saying.
BRENDON: Basically, yeah.
JESS: This is the Brendon to the Jess is what you’re saying?
BRENDON: Exactly. Which am I?
JESS: You’re the stage musical, Brendon. Sorry.
BRENDON: Who are you to make me the stage musical? I can't read.
JESS: Brendon died off-screen of a drug overdose.
ANDREW: I feel bad, cus like, we shouldn't make fun of people that can't read because that's like, a thing. But like, it's done so poorly in this. It's really -
BRENDON: I have minor dyslexia. It runs in my family. So –
ANDREW: Yeah, I don't want to make fun of people who are illiterate, but it's like this show handles it so badly.
JESS: It’s kind of the way it handles it that's hilarious more than the thing itself if that makes sense.
ANDREW: Yeah, yeah, of course.
BRENDON: They make it the focal point of - That's basically the main thing that Tyrone's character is revolving around.
ANDREW: Yeah, it’s like Tyrone exists - You can't not mention the racial element too.
ANDREW: There's one black character, and his character arc is he's unable to read. And it's like, “What are you trying to say here?”
BRENDON: It's interesting because this musical tries to establish itself as this separate universe from the film. Like, they even say, “Ever since that movie, everyone wants to come here.”
BRENDON: So, they’ve established it's a different universe, but the main like caricature and archetypes for the characters are exactly the same as the movie. So, Tyrone is based off of Leroy in the film, and Leroy can't read. But it's because of a bigger issue that deals with - he has no family. He's growing up in a torn down Bronx, or no - it's Harlem. He's growing up in torn down Harlem. And that's the big thing is like - he has the world going up against him, but he's able to escape and be his true self through dance. Which, you get to see that –
JESS: Imagine if we actually got to see that.
BRENDON: Yeah, you actually get to leave the school in the film.
ANDREW: Instead, they portray him as a cheat who's lying to his teachers because he doesn't want to admit that he can’t read.
JESS: And peers.
ANDREW: Yeah, he's lying to everyone because he doesn't want to admit he can't read. And then they try to pass it off as it's like, “Oh, well, he's just got like dyslexia or something, and that means he's unable to read.” And he comes off as the bad guy almost. Cus it's like, “Why are you lying to everyone about this instead of seeking actual help?” Whereas if we saw the outside world, and it's like, “Okay, well, he's, you know, being crushed by the system.” Like, okay, now it's not the same. But instead, it's just like, “He's just lazy and he doesn't want to learn how to read.”
JESS: Okay. Let me also say here that the reason why it jumps out so much as a racially charged thing of making the one black character that is because every single person minority is their stereotypical self that you would see in the 60s pamphlets. The one Puerto Rican-Mexican girl - of course she's addicted to drugs and dies of an overdose. Of course, right?
ANDREW: It's - Yeah, it's honestly awful. Like, I don't know if it's intentional, but the way it comes off is terrible.
BRENDON: I think it’s just - Because you have to remember, this was made in the 70s, too. So, the film version, it was made in the 70s. So we were only – what? 10 years removed from the big civil rights movement. And so the fact of focusing in on Leroy as a character in the film, and actually showing what life was like, was huge. And it's from that context that you're like, Leroy is still a shitty character. Like everybody kind of in the film is a shitty character. But you understand, like, “Hey, they're their kids, and they're trying to figure everything out. That's why they're dicks.”
ANDREW: Yeah, the change of tone where it's more, it's more lighthearted, makes it feel worse, because it's like they don't understand that this is a major issue. They think that this is some lighthearted thing that's just like, you know, “Let's just put it in there, because you know -”
JESS: It also feels like everything can get solved real easily.
ANDREW: Yeah, exactly. It's like you're expecting the Disney Channel resolution 10 minutes later, where it's just like, “Oh, he just had this thing. And now he can read, it's fine.”
JESS: Which is why it makes it such a shock when Carmen dies of a drug overdose off screen in the last five lines of the show.
ANDREW: It's tonally a disaster. And looking in for the morals of it, you just - it starts to become extremely questionable and potentially racist. And it's like -
BRENDON: I would honestly equate – Like, I don't think it's fair, honestly, to compare the stage version to the film, because they're too different enemies.
JESS: But it begs comparison by sharing the name.
BRENDON: But I would say compare the stage version to the TV show and the tour group - the concert tour group, The Kids from "Fame". That's a lot closer. Because, again, De Silva had the stage and the TV rights, so you kind of get to see it through the NBC show, where it's the Ant Farm problem is what I call it. Where it's just like, “Hi, I'm a kid, I'm special. I'm better than everybody because I do art,” which is horrible.
ANDREW: Yeah, there's also that big theme, because there's the fight between the English teacher who's representing non-arts –
ANDREW: Non-arts classes, which is ridiculous. Because English is in the academic field. English is the closest to being an art.
JESS: It is language arts, that's literally what it's called.
ANDREW: Yeah, so it’s absurd that she is not considering English an art, and she's saying that arts are worthless. But it's this fight between academics and art and they're very much portraying art as the better one. But they're also downplaying the artistic elements of it by saying that like, “Oh, these kids are in it for fame. And classical music is not as important as popular music. And ballet is not as important as hip hop dancing.” So you're gonna play up the arts, but you're gonna say only particular arts are important, and it's not for artistic value, it's for getting famous and getting rich?
JESS: It feels like De Silva’s like, “How do you do, fellow kids?” And like, “Yeah, yeah, art and all this is so stupid, right?”
ANDREW: “Art is stupid, like, but if I could dance to get money, that'd be sick.”
JESS: “Hell yeah. Only if I get paid.”
ANDREW: Yeah, it's like, “I don't want to be Romeo. I don't want to be like a Shakespearean actor. I want to talk about dicks and like, make money from it. You know?”
BRENDON: I honestly cannot blame them because I have that exact same situation where, like, what's his name? Johnny Vegas?
JESS: Joe. It’s just Joe.
BRENDON: Johnny Sins. Where Johnny Sins comes out and he's like, “I got cast. The director hates me. Why am I cast in this? I hate Shakespeare.” That was the one part that I could relate to. Because I had to audition for Twelfth Night, and I hate Shakespeare.
BRENDON: It was a three-hour show. I hate Shakespeare.
BRENDON: That's right. I said it. God, horrible. I didn't prepare it all. I was just like, “I don't want to do this. I want months off so I could actually focus on school. Fuck this”. And so, I threw it. I didn't get cast. Then I went to Tahoe with my then girlfriend at the time. And I was like, “Finally, I can relax and hang out.”
ANDREW: Emma Stone.
BRENDON: Yeah, with Emma Stone. And then I got a call from Jason. And he's like, “Hey, you’re cast.” I was like, “Wait, what? No, please. The cast list already went up. No.” Then I was on stage for five minutes in this three-hour show. And my parents missed it because they went to the wrong theater. They missed my – They drove two hours. And they, after I said, “Do not come,” and they missed it.
ANDREW: You're so supportive.
JESS: And really, that's why Fame is a great show. But do you know what? Who cares what we think? It's time for the best segment of this entire podcast - the one where we compare our opinions with those of the theater critics that saw this show as well and see the differences. It's time for Breeviews.
(Breeviews theme song)
BRIANNA: Today on Breeviews, Time Out’s critic Holly Williams said, “But while the earnest theatre majors might spout lessons from Stanislavski and Chekhov dialogue, no-one’s really here for the dramANDREW: ‘Fame’ is all about belting tunes and dance moves, high-cut leotards and high kicks. And this production delivers, with lycra and legwarmers a-go-go. The acting is cartoonish, even buffoonish, a lot of the time, but the cast tear up the stage to a synth-tastic score that’s also inflected with funk, Latin grooves and incredibly ’80s saxophone solos. Winston’s direction has the music students playing live throughout and they’re integrated into big numbers fluidly.”
JESS: He gave a very positive review altogether – Or, she did.
ANDREW: That was very positive.
BRENDON: I remember reading that when doing the research for the Fame video and I was like, “Oh, it can't be that bad.”
BRIANNA: You thought.
ANDREW: Honestly, why is this so positive? It's like they just were like, “Oh, is the music listenable? I guess so.”
JESS: Hold on, hold on. Wait till you hear the next one. Bree, what do we got next?
BRIANNA: The Hollywood News critic Barbara Jones says, “The musical accompaniment to the whole show was not only highly accomplished but visually enhancing, bringing even more emotion and vigour to the stage. Throughout, the audience were completely engaged with the show and one felt the mood of the audience change as the show swung from high drama, electrifying dancing, the pathos of ballet, the whole gamut of instrumental and vocal range.
This is an unmissable show for all Fame fans, it exceeds all their demands – but for the Fame novice, this is the production to see!”
ANDREW: Just how, though?
JESS: UK theater is fucking wacky as shit. They love this garbage.
BRENDON: That is true. This is the –
ANDREW: Do they get like three shows a year and they're just like, “Yeah, they're all good. They're all great.”
BRENDON: I mean, it's - Lloyd Webber is all we have to –
ANDREW: That's their high point, yeah.
JESS: Well, remember. They gave Les Mis god awful reviews.
BRENDON: That is an interesting point. Because they love Starlight. It's like all they want a DJ the DJ
JESS: They loved The DJ –
JESS: The DJ Saved My Life or whatever.
BRENDON: Oh. The DJ Khaled musical.
ANDREW: These guys would watch the Blue Man Group or something and they’d think that this is as high as art goes. This is the highest of high art. There's nothing better than the Blue Man Group. This is it.
BRENDON: Bree, I want you to look up a UK-based review on the musical Stomp and tell me what they thought of it.
JESS: Oh my god, let’s do this.
BRENDON: I wanna know what they thought of Stomp.
ANDREW: Stomp is the Blue Man Group as far as I remember. This is – we’ve talked about this.
JESS: It’s like percussive Blue Man Group.
ANDREW: The Blue Man Group is percussive, Jess.
JESS: No, the Blue Man Group is god awful nonsense where they spray paint on the shit and they make you hold their gum and stuff like that.
BRENDON: And they put a camera down their throat and they're like, “Here you go.”
ANDREW: The Blue Man Group, they're just throwing stuff at a wall just to see what sticks.
BRENDON: I took so many trips to Vegas and anytime we were in the Luxor that was just the - that was always the clip that I saw the TV, was inside of some dude’s throat.
BRENDON: From the Blue Man Group, let me clarify.
BRIANNA: Do you want a review from TripAdvisor? Cus they're all very bad over here.
BRENDON: Maybe nobody can save Stomp.
BRIANNA: Okay “To close in London after 15 wonderful years.”
JESS: Okay. If it lasted 15 years, that should be all we have to know about it.
BRENDON: Oh my god.
BRIANNA: Everybody says it's incredible.
ANDREW: Oh no.
BRIANNA: But the people on TripAdvisor say otherwise.
ANDREW: Well, TripAdvisor is tourists from different places though. That's why.
BRENDON: Probably Americans who are like, “I can't afford to see this in New York. Let’s see it now. Thanks, subsidized art.”
BRIANNA: “This was the worst show I have ever seen. It is just two hours of deafening banging. If you imagine banging dustbin lids, brooms, tins, etc etc for two hours, that is all it is. We left before the end. Unfortunately, they did not have an intermission. Otherwise, we would have left then.” “Even the humor in the show was bad.”
ANDREW: This is making me nervous. We're gonna release this and the next thing we know, Patreon is requesting we talk about Stomp.
JESS: Joseph Evans Green steps up, “Review Stomp.”
BRENDON: Just video chat me on Discord, I'll take my Swiffer mop and my vacuum, I’ll just bang them. I’ll hit my head against the fridge and that’s Stomp. There we go.
JESS: Before we go into a mid-show, I did find a seat plan London description of Stomp and it has a little section of who this show is recommended for. And I find it funny so I'm going to read that. “Stomp is recommended for noise lovers and fans of innovative physical theater. If you love Blue Man Group, then this show is definitely for you. Stomp is fun for all the family and can be enjoyed equally by children and adults alike. Recommended for children 7+ (LOUD!!)”
ANDREW: “Hey guys, if you like noise and The Blue Man Group, this is the show for you.”
JESS: “Do you like loud noises? I know I do.”
BRENDON: “You know, we could go see Book of Mormon, but just really want to hear some dude like slam some garbage lids together.”
JESS: Okay, last tangent.
BRENDON: “Let’s go to Applebee’s and watch Stomp.”
JESS: Last tangent. Do you know Stomp is the reason why we have Jar Jar Binks?
BRENDON: And on that cliffhanger, here's the mid-show.
JESS: Because Ahmed Best - George Lucas went to go see Stump, and Ahmed Best knew that he was up for the Jar Jar Binks role. So he said “Fuck it. I'm going to up this guy. I'm gonna go and upstage everyone on stage so George Lucas can only look at me.” And Jar Jar Binks was born.
BRIANNA: Meesa crazy. Bom, bom, bom, bom.
ANDREW: Oh, Jar Jar Binks. Oh no.
JESS: Man. If only Ahmed Best knew it would take it to 2017 to get a good Star Wars movie. And on that note, go to the mid-show announcements.
JESS: So, Party, like –
ANDREW: You wanna try that again, Jess? So partyyyy. Pray/Hard Work, baby. We open on Pray/Hard Work, which honestly is a - I think it's a bad number. I do not like it.
JESS: What? No. You don't say.
(Pray/Hard Work plays)
ANDREW: The whole thing is just about how hard it is to be an artist and they have every art department of students sing their own version of it at the same time and it doesn’t sound very good.
JESS: Andrew – Don't you know that dancing and acting and singing is equally the hardest thing in the fucking world? Like, there is no other field or career that is harder than any of those things? Don't you know that, Andrew?
ANDREW: I do know that.
BRENDON: That's what makes the film version nice - is they progress. They say hardest in the school, in the world, of them all. Which still I mean, you know not much better, but at least it's not just them repeating the same thing. And that would have actually been an interesting sub point or just a plot is just the different departments competing against each other for something at the end.
JESS: You know, that would actually be a cool idea if they were going to try something different.
BRENDON: Yeah, if they were gonna try.
ANDREW: Two points to the music department.
JESS: “One point to Slytherin department.”
BRENDON: “We love Mozart.”
JESS: “Yousa banished. I am baby Jar Jar Binks. Misa run the Fame school.”
BRENDON: “Meesa need cocaine. Meesa move to Cali.”
JESS: “Meesa do stripping. Meesa go back home.”
BRENDON: “Meesa died.”
JESS: “Meesa died off screen.”
BRENDON: My favorite thing in the entire thing: “I love you!”
JESS: “Meesa gonna be like Meryl Streep.”
ANDREW: Okay, I Want to Make Magic, the I want song for the character that is the main character 100%, guys.
BRENDON: I will be referring to him as Peanut Butter through this whole thing.
JESS: What peanut butter commercial are you talking about?
BRENDON: She's like, “Aren't you the guy you from the peanut butter commercial?” And he’s like, “Well, don't spread it around.” And it’s like, I fucking hate you. I hate you, Peanut Butter.
ANDREW: So, I Want to Make Magic - is this what he wants to do? Is this ever said? I feel like that's not at all his actual want. And this is just the name of the song.
(I Want to Make Magic play)
JESS: His want is to not have this girl on his fucking tip all day.
ANDREW: Until the end where he decides that he does. The end.
JESS: Yeah, she wore him down.
JESS: Gets Stockholm syndromed into this relationship. Why not?
BRENDON: Honestly, though. That's just the pretentious thing of like, “Oh, I read Stanislavski. I'm better than you.”
ANDREW: Yeah. And then we get the real I want song, Can't Keep It Down. I feel like we have to talk about this one.
(Can't Keep It Down plays)
JESS: As Brendon said, it is the third best erection song in musical theater.
ANDREW: Can we get the first two?
BRENDON: Well, I said it was the second best. Because the top is still My Unfortunate Erection from Putnam County Spelling Bee.
JESS: I agree. But also there's -
BRENDON: I don't know another one. From Seussical?
JESS: No, this is me sending love to my friend Adam Wachter, who did a song called Four Downs To The Ten-Yard Line about a guy that gets so turned on and bonerific from sports.
BRENDON: Wow, I love High School Musical.
ANDREW: Oh, yeah. That's the one where he ropes it out, right?
JESS: Yeah, he rubs one out. But you heard it wrong and said rope one out.
JESS: See our Terrytown episode.
ANDREW: Yeah. Okay, yeah, no. I think, unless more are discovered, this is the third best.
JESS: This is the third best, technically, by default. It takes the bronze.
ANDREW: Once more are discovered, it will drop down the list and it will always be the last.
JESS: I’m sure there’s one in Spring Awakening. There has to be, right?
BRENDON: That’s actually gonna be - that's the topic of Season Three for Wait in the Wings. We just talked about boners. Just boners.
JESS: Not even boner songs and musicals –
BRENDON: Just boners.
JESS: We’re starting with hot lunch from 1970.
ANDREW: This is like the most inappropriate boner, too. And everyone is into the song and it's just weird.
JESS: “Yeah, boners!”
BRENDON: They're into it. And then simultaneously, they're not into it.
ANDREW: Yeah, they're saying that they're not into it, but they're all dancing and singing along and smiling.
BRENDON: Because the script – or the director’s like, “No, no, no. Just be angry here and then hey, happy dance time.”
JESS: Are they diegetic dancing are they non-diegetic dancing?
BRENDON: Carmen’s literally just like, “More like ‘pervert’! Can’t keep it down.”
JESS: We're supposed to set up that she's a bit chaste, so that when she becomes a stripper later –
ANDREW: We're like, “Oh, man, that's so that's such a big change.”
JESS: What a fall from grace.
BRENDON: Meet Carmen. Her main purpose is to be a sexual object. No other attributes.
JESS: And a drug addict.
ANDREW: She’s also a drug addict. I mean, she writes a song.
BRENDON: How out of touch are you? Did this musical premiere in 1988? Is that true?
JESS: That is true.
BRENDON: So, same year as Carrie?
JESS: Which is the better High School Musical, though? I think that didn't flop though.
BRENDON: Well, because it never went to Broadway. They played it safe.
ANDREW: Yeah, I'd much rather watch Carrie.
BRENDON: Carrie sold out in Stratford. It was sold out every night. So –
JESS: Carrie, actually, even at its worst, Carrie was pretty watchable.
ANDREW: Carrie is much better than this.
BRENDON: - which is like, fantastic. The music is great.
JESS: Shit, even the I want song, Carrie, is really, really good.
BRENDON: Yeah. It's so solid. I would watch Carrie 30 times, as opposed to watch this once.
JESS: I agree.
ANDREW: Yeah. All right. Fame. The song Fame.