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'Fame' production is a family affair
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Four families will take part in the PHCC Patriot Players’ production of “Fame – The Musical” on Saturday. Pictured are (front, from left) Isaiah Young, Louandrea Young, (back, from left) Lanessa Sharp, Bailey Sharp, Ali Johnson, Michelle Johnson-Epps, Danealia Simmons and Roslyn Simmons. (Contributed photo)

Friday, July 26, 2013

“Fame – The Musical” is set to hit the stage Saturday at Patrick Henry Community College with four parents and their children performing together.

This is the first musical where Louandrea Young and her son Isaiah Young will work together onstage. She said it has been fun but also a learning experience.

“I’m kind of out of my element here,” she said. “Isaiah has done several shows growing up, but I was never on stage. I’m actually learning a lot from him.”

“It’s been great having my mom in the show,” Isaiah Young added. “I feel more confident and comfortable when I come on the set, and maybe a little jealous. I would love to do another show with her — as long as I’m the star.”

The Youngs are joining Michelle Johnson-Epps and her son Ali Johnson, who travel more than an hour from Winston-Salem to be in the show. Michelle is no stranger to the stage and was excited to have her son join her for a performance.

“He has really developed since he’s started on this show, and I’m so proud to do this with him,” she said. “It’s been a joy to spend so much time together during the drive and at practice.”

Ali didn’t have much experience before he started practicing for “Fame.”

“He’s a different kid now. He was a little rough around the edges when he got here, and I knew he would have to work on things,” said director Devin Pendleton. “But from the moment he started, we saw him changing. I think he met his match with a lot of these kids.”

Ali said he pulled inspiration for his character Tyrone Jackson from J.J. in the 1970s-era sitcom “Good Times.”

Roslyn Simmons is sharing the stage with her daughter Danealia Simmons. They have starred together in six musicals, so far.

“It’s really funny how she (Roslyn) started out doing musicals,” Danealia said. “I got a flyer from school and dragged her along to the audition. The people running the auditions kept harassing her about trying out, so she finally did. And she got the lead role.”

“We’ve had a great time on this show, and we hope to continue working together on future shows,” Roslyn said.

The Simmons family actually is a trio with D’Allen Simmons, Roslyn’s son, working backstage.

A few of the other “Fame” families have some experience working together, but Lanessa Sharp said she had to adjust to being in the spotlight.

“I have always been a backstage mom and never onstage, so it’s definitely been an adjustment. I was completely out of my element,” she said. “It took a while to get used to it, but I’ve had a great time.”

Bailey Sharp, Lanessa’s daughter, has performed in several productions before “Fame.” She said having her mom onstage for the first time was a little strange.

“It’s been very different, and a little weird at times,” she said. “Sometimes, I would turn around and wonder what my mom is doing onstage and then I remember, ‘Oh, she’s in the show.’”

Pendleton said the Patriot Players welcome families to participate in any show.

The performances of “Fame – The Musical” will be at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students and $25 for VIP seats, which includes a catered meal before the 8 p.m. show.

Both performances will be at PHCC in Walker Theatre. Call the PHCC switchboard or 638-8777 to order tickets.


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