Filichia Features: TALENT SPRINGS ETERNAL - The Semi-Sequel to FAME

Filichia Features: TALENT SPRINGS ETERNAL - The Semi-Sequel to FAME

By Peter Filichia on December 07, 2018

So many high-schoolers believe it.

Someday — meaning someday soon — they'll be rich, famous, and powerful. The world will be their oyster, which they'll easily pry open and grab what's inside. They'll be celebrated in their hometowns with parades and plaques.

This is especially true of kids who plan to enter show business, where fame and fortune do sometimes come with the territory. Many teens have their four acceptance speeches ready for their Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy wins. Their only worry is wondering what they'll to say when they win their second Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy.

Let 20 years pass, though, and, as Fred Ebb smartly wrote in Cabaret, "You learn how to settle for what you get." That's why there's so much resonance in Talent Springs Eternal — the semi-sequel to Fame that's actually subtitled Fame Forever.

The Class of '84's upcoming 20th reunion makes the 38-year-old graduates of The High School of Performing Arts take stock of what they have — and haven't — accomplished.

It's seen through the eyes of graduates Michael Peters and Carmen Diaz. Does the former name ring a melodious bell? Peters directed Michael Jackson's Thriller and co-choreographed Michael Bennett's Dreamgirls. As for Diaz, alas, she died (through her own fault, sad to say) before she could amass any credits.

These two heavenly bodies will witness former graduates as well as current students at LaGuardia High School, which finally merged with The High School of Performing Arts in 1984.

The graduates include Tyrone Jackson ("I'm out here dancing; still the world doesn't know my name"), DJ Joe Vegas ("Twenty years on my waistline; 20 years of less hair") and Mabel Washington ("The weather girl on local cable and not exactly a superstar").

Schlomo Metzenbaum did realize his dream of becoming a successful composer. Yet he misses "those friends you swore you'd love forever and don't speak to anymore."

Doing better still is prime-time TV legend Nick Piazza. The school would love him to attend the reunion if only for the added publicity. We'll see if he can fit it into his busy schedule.

When Tyrone is asked to pair with long-lost high school sweetheart Iris, he's reluctant. More reluctant still is Iris, for she abandoned dancing shortly after wedding a wealthy man. Iris suspects her attendance is requested as a request to donate sizable sums.

That's the thing about Talent Springs Eternal; David De Silva, who created the story and co-wrote the libretto with lyricist Ben H. Winters, doesn't coat with sugar or gild any lilies about the entertainment industry. Even on the scholastic level, it's a business.

Unhappy with the Tyrone-Iris reunion is his current love Chantelle, replete with the assurance and arrogance of youth. Because Iris's marriage made in heaven has recently gone to hell, we may soon see this triangle's three sides blown apart.

As for the current LaGuardia students, "Everybody Wants to Be Maria," goes one song — in West Side Story, that is. Prime contenders: Vanessa Vegas and Georgia Washington.

If their surnames sound familiar, yes, they're respectively the daughters of Joe and Mabel. Vanessa has had leads for four years, partly because Ms. Katz has attentively shepherded her. Mr. Garcia, however, believes that Vanessa had had her chances and now Georgia should have hers.

Taking more pointed sides are the girls' parents, each of whom, of course, has a strong opinion on which is the superior performer.

Wait till you see who'll portray Maria — which relegates the also-ran to play Anybodys. And will the lass who wins Maria also win JJ, who'll be Tony? See which one of the girls sings "The sun forgets to shine just when you think that everything's fine."

As it turns out, she's not just commenting on West Side Story.

That's Act One, but De Silva and Winters had a great idea for Act Two. They advanced the action so that the students we just saw are now ten years older and holding their first reunion — and the now-48-year-old grads are now celebrating (or enduring) their 30th.

There's a mention of "this incredible public school," and, yes, De Silva and Winters italicized public to stress that great education isn't only found in private places. Similarly, the ol' "those-who-can't-do-teach" theory is shown to be spurious.

As with the original Fame, there are plenty of opportunities for dance — especially in "I've Got Another Song to Sing." This eleven o'clock number will have your audience singing it for hours after.

They might even remember it when the time comes for the Class of '84 to hold its 50th reunion.

Listen to and download the Talent Springs Eternal audiobook.

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