The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, April 20, 1999 - 19
'Fame' in nation altour spotlight
versity alum Gavin Creel couldn't
whether he should paint his sub-
s third audition after moving to
Fork City, a tryout for the lead in
rth American tour of "Fame -The
l," had landed him four callbacks.
ot the part he would move right
o he called his agent to find out if
rld need to fix up his sublet. When
ent returned his call, he told Creel
buy the paint because he had a
contract will bring Creel to
next week as part of the tour that
in Toronto last November. He
to stay in Ann Arbor during that
d catch up with his teachers and
. Due to his involvement in
' Creel's life has undergone major
s since his graduation from the
sity's musical theater program
an a year ago. "It's like a great,
amazing first step," he said.
future wasn't so certain at the
ing of last fall. After a couple of
n summer stock groups, Creel
in New York at the end ofAugust.
off the train with my luggage
idea where I was going to
found an apartment quickly
arted going to auditions,
ough he said he wasn't too
vhat he was doing. He
into the "Fame" audition
it being on the call list.
aid his college experiences,
f the best times in his life,
give him the courage to do
lichigan prepared me to go
vYork and just go for it, he
sings the opening lines of the musical as
well as a solo, "I Want to Make Magic."
Creel also got the chance to sing on
the musical's CD, made in one day dur-
ing their six week long stay in Toronto at
the kick-off of the tour. The cast woke up
early one morning to record the album, a
task that took 10 hours. Creel recalled
one of his friends saying he listened to
the CD at Borders here in Ann Arbor.
"Of course, we hear all the problems, but
it's such an honor to be on a cast record-
ing," Creel said.
The tour also has its ups and downs,
including living out of a suitcase and
moving nearly every week. Since Creel
misses his college friends and family, he
received a cell phone as a Christmas gift
to keep in touch. "AT&T One Rate,
baby," he said. "It's a beautiful thing."
He does have companionship, since
the whole cast usually stays in the same
hotel. Working and living together can be
a strain, however. "You go through days
where you want everyone to leave you
alone, and then you have days where you
to you and no one does;' Creel said. But
"For the most part, the cast really works
Creel said he feels that being on tour is
actually less stressful than some of his
previous performing experiences. At the
University, he appeared in "A
Midsummer Night's Dream" and
"Sweeney Todd" in addition to directing
last spring's MUSKET show "Pippin."
"There's less pressure on the road than at
Michigan," he said. At University pro-
ductions, "All the most influential people
in your life are sitting there and watching
Part of the pressure stemmed from the
fact that the University shows only had
four performances, all of which had to be
perfect. With "Fame" Creel instead wor-
ried about getting bored with playing the
same role many times. "At first I
thought, 'How the hell am I going to sus-
tain this for six months?"' he said. Yet,
"Every night I step on stage, and I chal-
He uses the scenes where
he is having a conversation
with other actors in the
background for this pur-
pose. During each perfor-
mance, Creel tries to
have new discussions
with different characters.
Even though he
spends it on the
:. fringes of the
action, he espe-
cially enjoys the
"I'm only in that for
the first minute and a half," he
said. But, "I could watch that
That scene holds court as his
favorite due to his costars'
energetic dance moves.
Although his part in "Fame"
consists predominantly of
singing, Creel also studied dancing dur-
ing his college career. "I love to dance,
but there's no way I can do half the things
those people do," he said. "They're
In spite of the cast's spirit, reviewers
criticized the musical's script. Creel
deals with the reviews by remembering
the positive feedback on the actors from
the audiences and critics. "When you get
a job, you have to treat it like it is
Shakespeare," he said.
Even with all the new experiences in
his life, Creel has become used to the
routine of being in a national tour. He
compared it to when he worried about
getting a job at Einstein's Bagels right
after it opened and realized later, through
experience, that slicing bagels was sim-
ple. "Now that I'm in it, I sort of take it
for granted," he said. "Sometimes I feel
like, 'Why me?' For me, it's not any dif-
ferent than trying to get a part my fresh-
man year in high school."
"Fame" is already booked through the
year 2001, but Creel's contract expires in
November. He could leave anytime after
that to pursue his other ambitions,
including directing and acting in
Broadway shows, TV and movies. He
has an interest in films that feature actors
his age such as "Go," which he saw
twice, and period dramas similar to
"Shakespeare in Love." "I'm trying to
learn about what kind of actor I want to
be," Creel said. "Eventually I'm going to
have to say goodbye to 'Fame' and hit the
pavement again to take the next step."
That step could be starring in the
Broadway show "Footloose," which
currently stars Jennifer Thompson,
another 1998 University alum, as the
female lead. Right now, however, Creel
is still focusing on the upcoming West
Coast leg of the tour and the impor-
tance of "Fame" as the first step in his
career. "This has been a huge part of
the plan," he said. "Whereas college
was the root ... everything's going to
grow from here"
courtesy of Carol Rossegg
Jennifer Gambatese listens to Gavin Creel explain his dreams of an acting career.
ig that chance turned out to
worthwhile. Now Creel's
Nick Piazza, one of the
tudents at New York's
,hool of the Performing
ght times a week. Creel
Courtesy of Carol Rossegg
Carl Tramon, Robert Creighton and Amy Ehrlich discuss
ideas for their new rock band.
may not live forever
THE FORD HONORS PROGRAM
S MADE POSSIBLE BY
FORD) MOTOR COMPANY FUND
Saturday, May 8, 6 p.mt
ame - The Musical" may have
ved a standing ovation at a
r e c e n t
ie - The ended quickly.
Even as the audi-
Musical ence began
Detroit bundling into its
Music Hall coats, a sense of
April 27.1999 disappointment
In some ways,
ed. It gave the
audience a real-
istic and fun
se of a class graduating from
York's High School for the
arming Arts in 1984. The authen-
Os garb served as a disturbing
der of an era of fashion trends
people would rather forget.
t in spite of the costuming and
compelling music, the show left
behind the nagging sensation of an
incomplete work. The missing ele-
ment was character development. In
trying to recreate the high school
experience, writer Jose Fernandez
introduced too many characters and
their problems in a couple hours.
The approach of following an
entire class of students through high
school works well in shows such as
"Grease," because the focus of
"Fame" remains on two main charac-
ters. In "Fame," however, the audi-
ence can't pick out the main charac-
ters from a lineup.
Often, the characters only referred
to a conflict in one line and never
came back to it, leaving the audience
hanging. The music student Schlomo
Metzenbaum, for example, wants to
start a rock band, although he comes
from a long line of classical com-
posers. The potential plot line starts
out interesting, but Schlomo only
mentions it once before he launches
into singing another cheesy tune.
The same fate befalls acting stu-
dents Nick Piazza and Serena Katz.
Although University graduate Gavin
Creel and Jennifer Gambatese
worked hard to keep their several
scenes interesting, the script had
already hardened the hearts of the
audience into indifference.
Only Dwayne Chattman as class
rebel Tyrone Jackson and Natasha
Rennalls in the role of the ambitious
Carmen Diaz really managed to win
over the audience by sheer force of
character. They also played the only
two characters with developed prob-
lems for the audience to understand.
Jose Restrepo overcame the script
in his smaller role as the class clown
with the solo "Can't Keep it Down."
No one could remain apathetic to his
The ensemble songs and dances,
such as "Hard Work" and "Fame,"
also remained entertaining, even with
the script's flaws. The cast seemed
like they really had attended perform-
ing arts school and graduated with
honors. Their sheer energy spawned
an irrepressible urge to tap your feet.
Song and dance segments, even
when combined with an energetic
and talented cast, don't make a suc-
cessful musical, however. The script's
holes ultimately doomed the show's
chance-at fame to mediocrity.
Tickets for "Fame - The Musical"
are $25-$50 and are available
at all Ticketmaster locations.
The Detroit Music Hall is located
at 350 Madison Ave. "Fame "
begins April 27 and runs through
May 2. Call (313) 983-6611
for more information.
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