The Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Visual and Performing Arts Program culminated their production for “Fame: the Musical” at the newly renovated Southern High School Fine Arts Auditorium over the weekend.
Set in the 80’s, the stage musical tells the story of a diverse group of students at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City and their struggles to cope with academic, artistic, and personal issues and challenges.
Although the localized production recreated the original 80’s vibe of the musical and the film it was based on, the issues tackled by Fame --- such as substance abuse, identity, and self-worth --- still resonates with today’s generation.
Substance abuse addict Carmen Diaz, a difficult role to tackle, was played by Fantaysha Rioja, a SHS sophomore.
It was Rioja’s first time. As a theater newbie, she said it was initially difficult to go into character. However, by setting high expectations for herself, she was able to perform on stage.
Lee Reoligio played Nick Piazza, one of the lead characters in the play. He said it was easy to act the character but to fully immerse himself into the role was pretty complicated since “Nick” went through a lot of emotional roller-coasters in his life.
Two of the actresses who played teachers at the performing arts high school said they were glad that the program opened the opportunity for older performers to get into the stage.
Robin Janse played Ms. Esther Sherman, a strict English teacher at the high school.
“I have only been here for four months, we just moved here last summer. I used to do a lot of theater. I was excited to see that they actually opened it up for adults to help out. That was really a cool thing, incorporating adults into the production,” she said.
Janse said she liked the fact that her character transitioned and redeemed herself towards the end by assisting one of the lead characters who was secretly suffering from dyslexia.
Rose Sizemore played Ms. Sheinkopf, a classical music teacher who dislikes anything rock and roll.
Outside the stage, Sizemore works as a real life teacher and librarian at Liguan Elementary School. Understanding the role as well as the struggles of students helped her get into character, she said.
“Hearing that they are doing the production at the new auditorium, I somehow wanted to contribute,” Sizemore said.
Reoligio, a senior at SHS, said that he knows that distance could deter students from the central and northern schools from participating. But he hopes that they would have the same performing arts experience as he had with the program.
“I want the others to experience the same fun that I am having with theatre but I know it is a lot complicated for other people to come to Southern High,” he said.
This is the program’s first production in Santa Rita since moving their operations from their former home at the GATE Theater in Tiyan earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the GATE program has announced that they are holding auditions for Hairspray on December 10, 11, and 12 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at SHS. Performances will be held April next year.