THE 30th anniversary tour of Fame The Musical visits the Grand Opera House, York, in early March with a cast led by Mica Paris, Keith Jack and Jorgie Porter.

Based on the 1980 pop culture film, Fame, the musical spin-off opened on Broadway in 1988 and has since had seven West End runs, as well as regional tours, with its story of student life at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through highs and lows, romances and heartbreaks.

This bittersweet but ultimately uplifting show explores the issues that continue to confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

After a long association with Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Any Dream Will Do runner-up Keith Jack, now 30, has the chance to spread his wings by playing Nick Piazza.

"It's a completely different role for me," says Keith, who played Joseph at the Grand Opera House in November 2012. "For one, I don't wear a loincloth, and I'm not topless, which is quite nice. I get to wear clothes! People will come along and expect something of me and see something slightly different."

Describing Nick Piazza's character, Keith says: "Nick is an actor who started off doing a TV commercial, and became famous from doing younger stuff, but he wants to go away and train to become a 'real actor' to do Shakespeare, and not just be seen as 'that TV boy.

"He finds interest in a girl called Serena, and falls in love with her as the show goes on. He realises there is more to life than just books and learning and sees that he can let himself go a bit with her.

"She's a little bit quirkier than the average girl and doesn't take herself too seriously, and Nick finds that quite interesting. At the end, they may or may not get together; you'll have to come and see to find out."

Keith, who came to national attention on a BBC talent show in 2007, feels an affinity for Piazza. "I got given a big opportunity doing the TV programme and have spent the past ten years working away doing loads of different shows, concerts and albums, to keep working and show that I'm a real actor and not some TV hack," he says.

"When I finished the programme [Any Dream Will Do], it was hard to prove that I was good enough, and that I was right for something. Very much a part of the character [of Nick Piazza] is the same as what I had to deal with.

"When this part came up, I was like, 'Oh my god, it's like the part of my life when I came out of that programme'. Your hard work starts after the show. It's the same pressure that Nick has."

Fame The Musical's New York setting requires Keith has to swap his Midlothian Scottish accent for a Stateside one. "I had an American accent for the last show I did in London, Forever Plaid. The more you do it, the better it becomes. I've got a few friends who are American so I ask them for advice, and I had a dialect coach during rehearsals to make sure it's on point," he says. "In this process, I've not been told it's bad, so that's a good thing."

Touring for the first time in four years. Keith will be on the road in Fame until August, much to his delight. "It's such an iconic show, and I've worked with producers Selladoor before, and wanted to work with them again," he says. "When this came up and I saw Nick Winston was directing and choreographing, I jumped at the chance to be involved. Nick's ideas, and the ideas of the creative team, are amazing.

"Audiences will be on their feet at the end of the show, having followed a massive journey. They'll really feel the heart of this show, and obviously they'll be singing the iconic number, Fame!"

Fame The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, March 4 to 9, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at Age guidance: 12 and upwards.

Charles Hutchinson

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grand Opera House, York, November 6-10 2012