Washington, D.C. - GALA concludes its 43rd season with the U.S. premiere of a bilingual version of the unforgettable FAME The Musical. Conceived and developed by David De Silva, with book by Cuban writer José Fernández, music by Steve Margoshes and lyrics by Jacques Levy, FAME is directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado. Salgado returns to GALA with the creative team from the theater’s hit production of In The Heights, which garnered nine 2018 Helen Hayes Awards. Foremost in that team is Music Director Walter “Bobby” McCoy, who will lead a nine piece band. The production will be performed in English and Spanish and will have surtitles in both languages.
FAME runs May 9 through June 9, 2019 at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20010. Parking is available behind the theatre at the Giant Food garage on Park Road, NW for $4.
Press Night is Saturday, May 11, 2019, under the gracious patronage of the His Excellency José Tomás Pérez, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United States. The production is made possible in part with generous support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency for the National Endowment for the Arts, and Share Fund.
Fame The Musical is based on the 1980 musical film of the same name, which premiered in 1988 in Miami, Florida. The show follows the highs and lows of the final class of New York City's illustrious High School for the Performing Arts from their freshman year to their graduation. Touching on complex issues such as racial prejudice, drug abuse, and sexual exploitation, it tells the story of several of the students, depicting their struggles, triumphs and tempestuous relationships as they explore the realities of striving for a career in showbusiness. Salgado has added a nuance by incorporating the message of today’s DREAMers, Latinx immigrant students facing uncertain legal status in the U.S., into the unfolding of the characters.
“When Hugo Medrano, GALA founder and artistic producing director, approached me to direct FAME,” states director Salgado, “I knew it was a perfect project to follow our successful collaboration on In The Heights in 2016. The production honors José Fernández, a brave and daring Latino writer who lived under the radar and whose life sparks conversation about the Latin experience in musical theater. His life also mirrors the hopes and struggles of Dreamers today for a better future. So our adaptation questions what would happen if the FAME school was populated by a community of dreamers---not just because of their artistic pursuits, but because of their nationality and immigration status in the United States. We are thrilled to reimagine the possibilities raised by the question.”
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
David De Silva (Concept and Development) is known as "Father Fame." He conceived, developed and produced the MGM motion picture “Fame”, which received four Academy Award nominations. He was also Consulting Producer on the television series that ran for six years on network television and in syndication, received numerous Emmy Awards, and has been seen in 68 countries. Mr. De Silva believes that FAME will have its greatest success in the theatre. Its youth-oriented idealism and "live" performance energy will be an inspiration to young people everywhere.
José Fernández (Book) began his theatrical career as an actor. On Broadway, he appeared in The Me Nobody Knows, for which he received The Variety Critic's Poll Nomination for Best Actor; Hair; Truckload; and Two Gentleman of Verona. As a writer his credits include the Off-Broadway musical, El Bravo! and co-authored several comedies. In 1984, with David De Silva, he began transforming FAME into a new and timeless musical. Born in Cuba and raised in New York City, he died of AIDS at 46 on January 8, 1994, but not before he saw FAME in Stockholm in 1993. Performed in Swedish it was this hit production that launched the global FAME phenomenon.
Luis Salgado (Director and Choreographer) is an international director, choreographer and educator from Puerto Rico currently based in New York City. He was the Assistant Latin Choreographer of In the Heights on Broadway, which won four Tony Awards. Most recently he was the associate director/choreographer of Cirque de Soliel's Paramour in Hamburg Germany, Among the productions he has directed/choreographed in the United States and abroad are the fantasy musical Ella Es Colombia in Bogota, Colombia with MISI Musicals, the Holland Production of On Your Feet, RAGTIME, TO BE OR NOT TO BE... a Shakespearean Experience, Amigo Duende the Musical, In The Heights, Bountiful, Zuccotti Park, Song of Solomon, Speed the Plow, and Candela Fuerza y Pasión in Lima Peru.
In 2017 Mr. Salgado directed and choreographed the U.S premiere of the Spanish version of In The Heights at GALA, which received nine 2018 Helen Hayes Awards including Best Musical, Best Direction and Best Choreography. He has appeared on Broadway in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, ROCKY, In The Heights, On Your Feet, as well as Off-Broadway shows and Broadway tryouts ‘The Mambo Kings (Frankie Suarez), Fame on 42nd Street (Joe Vegas, understudy) and Aida, among others. Film credits include: "American Gangster"; "Dirty Dancing 2, Havana Nights”, the television remake of "Dirty Dancing”, "Enchanted" and "Step Up 2, The Streets" (Alejandro), for which he also was assistant choreographer. He is the founder/director of R.Evolución Latina, an affiliate of the non-profit organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Walter “Bobby” McCoy (Music Director), a Nicaraguan-American, returns to GALA after having been part of the creative team for the award-winning In The Heights, for which he won a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Musical Direction. Other local credits as music director include Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida (Constellation TheatBlues in the Night, Ruthless! The Musical, Caroline, or Change, and Once on This Island at (Creative Caulderon); Bat Boy: The Musical, Altar Boyz, Old Wicked Songs at 1st Stage (2016 Helen Hayes Award – Outstanding Musical Direction). He has also been assistant musical director for Cabaret and National Pastime at Keegan Theatre.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Featured in the cast are Paula Calvo (Carmen Díaz) and Carlos Salazar (Nick Piazza) from Colombia, who recently completed a tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; and New York actors Rafael Beato (Joe Vegas), Juan Luis Espinal (Schlomo), and Amaya Perea (Iris), all of whom appeared in In The Heights En Español at GALA; Tanya DeLeon (Serena Katz); Paloma De Vega (Lambchops); Romainson Romain (Tyrone Jackson); Alana Thomas (Mabel Washington); and Jon Yepez (Goody).
Also appearing in the cast are Teresa Dansky (Ms. Sherman); Imanol Fuentes Garcia (Mr. Meyers); Susan Oliveras (Ms. Sherman); and Brendon Schaefer (Mr. Sheinkopf).
Ensemble members are Julia Klavens, Kramer Kwalik, Bryan Menjivar, Pranjaal Pizarro, Susan Ramirez, Rodolfo Santamarina, Megumi Shimoda, and Patrick Ward.
Scenic design is by Clifton Chadick, who is working on his first production at GALA.. Light design is by Christopher Annas-Lee, who designed GALA’s In the Heights and Yerma (2018 and 2016 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Light Design, respectively); and Costumes are by Robert Croghan, who designed for In The Heights.
Sound Design is by Roc Lee, who designed for In The Heights at GALA and Mother Courage and Her Children at Arena Stage (2014 Helen Hayes Award - Outstanding Sound Design nomination). Projections are by Patrick J. Ward, and Properties are by Matt Carlin.
Brennan T. Jones is Stage Manager. Heather Hogan is Creative Consultant. Tony Koehler is Production Manager, Devin Mahoney is Technical Director, and Hugo Medrano is Producer.
Single tickets are $65. Tickets for Senior Citizens (65+), Military, and Students are $40. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets for Noche de GALA and Artist Reception are $80 per individual, $150 per couple.