Karen Rivera and Roxane Leon also contributed to this article.
For more photos from Fame the Musical, click here.
With the help of 33 people, after 14 weeks, 56 class periods, 9 out of school time rehearsals, Malden High School’s Play Production spent 2,064 hours to put on Fame: The Musical. The Musical was performed in the Jenkins Auditorium on January 9th, 10th, and 11th.
The musical is about teenagers that get accepted into a performing arts high school. Along their high school journey, the students face different obstacles like sexuality, relationships, drug abuse, learning disorders (dyslexia), and more.
Director and English Teacher Leanne DeRosa was excited as Fame was the first production she directed for Play Pro. She expressed that “only [having] four boys,” was a big factor that was considered when choosing what musical they would put on. DeRosa also mentioned that she performed Fame when she was in high school and remembered it being “really fun,” and thought that the Play Pro cast should try it.
DeRosa believes that since there are so many crucial components of any musical, such as singing, choreography, and more, it was best to put on a musical as the first production of the 2019-2020 school year. She elaborated by stating that the Play Pro staff was able to overcome their weaknesses since the production was not rushed and they had the time to perfect key details.
DeRosa explained that “[it is interesting to be the manager of the whole production and making sure everything from the sets to costumes was ready to go by show night. She believes that the most difficult part of putting on this production was just “making sure all of the boxes [were checked].”
DeRosa was not the only one who experienced challenges along the way of producing Fame, her cast also had a fair share of struggles and obstacles during the early stages of the musical.
Sophomore Yusra Tafraoui, who played the leading role of Carmen Diaz expressed that the toughest part of playing her role was tapping into her character’s personality since Carmen was “the polar opposite of [her] so it would get challenging at times.” Tafraoui overcame this by thinking about her character’s way of being and how Carmen may interact with different people to then use it on stage while performing.
This was Tafraoui’s first time in a musical production and when asked about her feelings upon first setting foot on stage, she explains that she “can't really explain the feeling because [she] was rather nervous than excited right before the lights hit the stage” However as her cast started to sing and get on stage, her nerves disappeared and she ended up having “so much fun.”
Yusra Tafraoui took her role very seriously and expressed that playing Carmen meant a lot to her because “as [they] started wrapping up the show and were preparing to perform, [she] realized that Carmen had went through so many challenges that some high school students could be facing today so [she] felt like it was [her] job to display Carmen's feelings and how life wasn't what she planned it to be.”
Sophomore Kearah-Denae Gomes was also a newcomer to the Play pro family, as she just started her first year at Malden High School in the fall. Gomes, who played the role of Mabel expressed that the challenge she faced during the production of Fame was “jumping into a new role when starting a new school and not knowing anyone.”
Kearah-Denae Gomes has been performing in musicals and plays since she was 10, and expresses that her passion for theatre grew from there and “[she] literally fell in love with the stage!!”
The character Mabel was one of the main characters in the musical, alongside Carmen Diaz. Gomes expressed her gratitude for playing such a role by stating that “It meant the world to [her] to play a main character. [her] and Mabel have a lot in common and it was easy to connect with her.”
Junior Ayman Boudrari played the role of Nick Piazza. He expressed that the toughest part of playing Nick was being able to find the “middle ground of pretentious and vulnerable.” He added that “Nick [was] supposed to be seen as uptight, but not so uptight that [he was] arrogant.” Boudrari explained that he will “always be grateful for everything [former directors Sean Walsh and Jennifer Clapp] did for [him].” However he feels as if this experience was different from other times he has participated in a production. He elaborates that he thinks that “because it was a new experience for both [him] and [DeRosa],” he was “able to get much closer with her.”
Junior Alissa Schopp explained that it was “the scenes where [her] character, Serena Katz, [was] supposed to get angry,” were difficult for her. She added that “[she is] not a very angry person so allowing [herself] to let go and just yell at Ayman [(Nick)] was really difficult.” Knowing that she had a lead role with solo songs, she was nervous and scared but after rehearsing so many times she was able to overcome her nerves and added that eventually the “nervousness wears off.”
Junior Ronald Batista expressed that a difficult part of playing Joe “Jose” Vegas was “making sure that the audience is actually laughing or playing along with the character.” Although it is his second year in Play Pro, he still acknowledges the difficulty to just “be able to get on stage and completely embody a character.” Batista expressed how much he admired DeRosa which “made it really easy for [everyone] to get along and got the job done.” He concludes that “Fame was certainly one of [his] favorite performances that [he has] done.”
The musical was initially scheduled to be in November, however there were complications with the pit band. This news was given to the Play Pro cast on short notice, and they were unable to perform their show without music, which resulted in the show nights being postponed until January.
Boudrari expressed that he “cannot wait to see what is coming up next,” for the Play Pro cast. He thoroughly enjoyed performing Fame, and thinks the two other shows this year will “be just as great.”
Tafraoui felt as if while Play Pro was working on the musical “time flew by.” She expressed that she, like the rest of the cast, will miss “Carmen Diaz and Fame,” but she is excited to see what is to come in the future.
Gomes explained that it feels “bittersweet,” that the musical is now over, but she had “fun but [she is also] glad it is over.”
The next production that Play Pro will be performing is their play for Drama Festival, which will be performed at the event itself, then showcased at the Jenkins Auditorium. The play can be expected to showcase near the end of February to early March.