Judging by audience reactions at last night’s opening (8 May 2007, previews from 4 May), Fame - the Musical really is going to live forever. The screen-to-stage musical is back for a limited summer season and it’s already got people dancing in the aisles at the Shaftesbury Theatre, its fifth West End home, where it’s booking to 1 September 2007 only.

Runar Borge’s original stage production, newly directed and re-staged by Karen Bruce, has been freshened up with a new set, new costumes and a brand new cast led by Ian Watkins (aka ‘H’ from Steps and seen on TV earlier this year in Celebrity Big Brother) and Two Pints of Lager’s Natalie Casey as acting students, and love interests, Nick Piazza and Serena Katz.

TO VIEW THE FAME OPENING NIGHT TV FOOTAGE, JUST CLICK ON THE "PLAY" ARROW > BUTTON TO THE LEFT OF THE TV SCREEN BELOW.

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Watkins and Casey’s fellow principals in the 30-strong cast include: George Maguire (as Joe Vegas), Natalie Kennedy (Carmen Diaz), Desi Valentine (Tyrone Jackson), Fem Belling (Mabel Washington), Danielle Cato (Iris Kelly), Matthew Thomas (Schlomo Metzenbaum), Kevin McGuire (Goodman King), Natalie Hope (Grace Lamb), Jacqui Dubois (Miss Sherman) and Emma Francis (Miss Bell).

Based on Alan Parker's 1980 Oscar-winning film and the American TV series of the same name, Fame follows a group of students from New York’s School for the Performing Arts through the highs, lows, friendships, romances and hard work necessary in their quest for success.

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for the curtain call at the Shaftesbury Theatre and the post-show party at the Langley Bar. Amongst our TV interviewees are: cast members Natalie Casey, Ian ‘H’ Watkins, Natalie Kennedy, Desi Valentine, Danielle Cato, George Maguire and Jacqui Dubois, director Karen Bruce, producer Adam Spiegel and first night guests including Caprice, Tony Blackburn, Melinda Messenger, Janie Dee and Any Dream Will Do’s Chris Barton.

Fame first opened in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre in 1995, when it was nominated for two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and Best Choreography. It returned in 1998 for a run at the Prince of Wales Theatre. The musical's last West End run began in October 2000 at the Victoria Palace (its second outing at that venue, where it also played in 1997) before transferring back to the Cambridge in September 2001 and then in 2002 to the Aldwych where it closed last April to make way for Dirty Dancing (See News, 24 Feb 2006).

Thanks to its various West End runs and continuing tours, Fame - the Musical has now been seen by more than four million people. Its new West End season is produced by Stage Entertainment.

- by Terri Paddock