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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Road To Fame'
(DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)

Overview: A unique coming-of-age story with Chinese characteristics, The Road to Fame chronicles the staging of the American musical Fame China's first official collaboration with Broadway by the senior class of the Central Academy of Drama. Raised in one-child families, these ambitious youngsters aspire to become tomorrow's megastars as they are about to graduate from their prestigious institution.

DVD Verdict: This (approximately) 90 minute documentary by director Hao Wu (who was a biologist in the US for 12 years before returning to his homeland of China) follows five of the 16 young students at Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama on their quest to make a future life in the dramatic arts. They are the first of the generation since China put into place a one-child rule and they are much different than their parents. The mechanism that director Wu uses is the joint production of the Broadway musical “Fame”. (Not the film or the TV show with the same subject and name but with different songs).

This film is not unlike documentaries like “Hoop Dreams” (basketball) or dance or piano competitions. The director has no way of knowing how the story will end. He just keeps filming and hopes for the best. The students who are chosen come from varied families – some have single parent, some are rich, while others are poor.

You will see rehearsals but there are no complete songs. And the score from the Broadway version did not have the staying power of that in the original film (songs by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford). I did see the musical in tryouts in Philadelphia but, other than the title song – carried over from the film and TV series – none were still in my memory. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Feature of:

Interview with director Hao Wu