The cast of Alton Little Theater's production of "Fame."
ALTON — Alton Little Theater will produce the Broadway musical “Fame” for six shows July 22-24 and July 29-31.
The production features a cast of 20 vocalists and dancers age 14 to 26, so the show has a lot of youthful energy, Director Kevin Frakes said. Six of the cast members are still in high school, but longtime students of dance and the rest of the cast were drawn to perform during summer breaks from college. Frakes and his production team stress that the summer show is not a youth production but the restaging of a musical that has been sparingly produced in this area.
Frakes was drawn to mounting a “dance” showcase production after running technical support for the Give Dance A Chance ALT fundraiser last year. He thought young adults and ALT audiences would enjoy the show’s music and energy. The production team Frakes assembled — Sue Parton Stanard (musical direction), Kristina Bemis (choreography), Lee Cox (costumes), Barb McHugh (assistant musical direction and dueling piano) and Linda Patton (stage manager) — enjoy working with the talented cast that hails from eight communities as far away as Staunton and St. Louis.
“Fame” picks up after the movie’s time to the last four years that the School for the Performing Arts existed in New York City (1980-83). Despite the acclaim the movie and TV show brought to the actual school, the urban decay and poverty of the surrounding area forced the school to close and left young performers with one last chance to “make it happen” before they graduated to the real world. Frakes stresses that “Fame” “teaches kids to work hard, dream big and listen to their more experienced teachers — a timely message, particularly today with budget cuts for arts funding and a struggling economy even in our own community.”
ALT made the decision to stage “Fame” with no tuition requirement for the cast so young people from all economic circles could participate. This decision was generously supported by a grant from the Boeing Employee Foundation and from the Gulovsen Swaab Charitable Fund, Marketing and Development Director Lee Cox said.
“Staging a musical is expensive, but the grant money really helped underwrite the cost of dance shoes and costumes — and keeping a supply of food and water around for long rehearsals and energized performers — and we were able to keep the ticket prices at $20 for adults and just $10 for students through high school so that ‘Fame’ can become the perfect date night for teens and young families and couples.”
The acting students are portrayed by Curtis Leible, Samantha Stinson and Sawyer Burton. The dancer students are portrayed by Eeyan Richardson, Mary Grace Brueggerman, Jordan Harper and Audra Ray. The musician students are portrayed by Cody Johnson, Emma Sugent and Will Johnson. Their teachers are played by ALT performers Steven Harders, Nick Trapp, Robyn Couch and newcomer gospel singer, Cathy Smith-Lytle. Cathy’s daughter Kani also makes her stage debut, along with Brianna Busse (featured dancer), Lexi Collman, Hannah Coughtry-Trapp, Kara Poirot and Emily Weller in the ensemble.
The production is supported by ALT’s two scholarship candidates, Kate Costello and Nathan Beilsmith, who have both been accepted into the theater program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and who will be assisting with costumes, staging, lights and acting as rehearsal assistants. 2016 marks the inaugural year for ALT to award $1,500 in scholarship money to students pursuing studies in technical or performance theater.
Tickets are available at (618) 462-3205 or altonlittletheater.org.