Mica Paris: The Fame Game
Mica Paris reveals why bringing Fame – The Musical to Wimbledon feels like coming home
After more than three decades in the music industry there’s little soul-singing legend Mica Paris hasn’t achieved, yet a modern take on the 80s cult classic TV show Fame has got her in a spin. Mica is cast as Miss Sherman in the critically acclaimed Fame – The Musical, which arrives at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 18 February.
“It’s the best musical I’ve ever done. And I’ve done six so I know what I’m talking about,” Mica laughs. “There’s honestly something really special about this show. The cast is amazing and the choreography is insane – we’ve already been nominated for four awards,” says Mica.
“I mean I was obsessed with the original Fame TV show, along with everyone else. I can remember running home from school and watching it, wishing I could go to a school like that,” Mica says.
Based on the smash-hit TV series about students at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts, the new stage production promises a little more grit. “It’s a whole rollercoaster ride of emotions. It’s a little bit darker, and that’s what’s quite nice about it. Don’t give me too much shiny Hollywood crap. It’s gritty, but with heart and soul. It’s real and not just sweet,” Mica continues.
“The script blew my mind because it was a different take on Fame. I come from a family of a lot of teachers and I really connected with Miss Sherman’s dedication to her students.”
No doubt one of the reasons for the musical’s critical acclaim is Mica’s legendary voice. “One of my songs is These Are My Children, and that is a proper gospel song. I have reworked it a little bit and it sounds really powerful,” she explains.
It’s little surprise this song strikes a chord with Mica, who grew up singing in her grandparents’ church. “I began singing at our church in Lewisham and soon I was singing at all the churches around the UK, I was like this prodigy. I was born in Islington but brought up in Lewisham and my mum is in Streatham so South London is really where I grew up. You know, Wimbledon, Wandsworth, and all these areas – that’s like my whole life. So being back down here is just like being back home again. It’s my childhood.”
“There’s something special about this show. The cast is amazing and the choreography is insane – we’ve been nominated for four awards”
Aged just 17, Mica was signed to Island Records and chart-topping albums soon followed. “It was a whirlwind. You just try to hold on and not to get swept away in the storm, you know. My first record blew up in America so I lived in the States aged 19 and was on David Letterman and all the big shows, I toured the US twice and then went all round the world. [I was] literally living out of a suitcase. It was insane.”
Following her rise to fame she has sage advice for budding artists. “The first thing I always say is you have to be so in love with what you do, you have to be so passionate that it doesn’t matter if there was a nuclear explosion, you’d still be doing it. When I’m on stage that’s it for me. I live for it. Nothing can replace that spiritual high from touching people with a song and your voice. It’s the most powerful thing in the world. And that’s how it should be, because that feeling will keep you invested even when the phone ain’t ringing, the albums aren’t selling or you’re not flavour of the month,” says Mica.
Alongside Fame, Mica is spinning several other plates. Her BBC Radio 2 show, Mica Meets, started in January and sees her interviewing iconic female singers from Gladys Knight to Jocelyn Brown and Paloma Faith. “It’s so interesting when you speak to these women, they have such amazing stories to share and even how they juggle everything as women, you suddenly realise ‘oh, I’m not the only person to feel like this’,” she adds.
Mica is also writing a second book, which looks at the journey of female singers in the music industry. “I think it’s our duty to tell the young people what this industry is really like because everyone wants to be a performer these days but the version they get on TV is very different to the real thing,” she says.
Mica still puts huge amounts of time and effort into honing her craft and perhaps this dedication is what helps her stand the test of time. “The dream is simply to touch people with everything I do, whether it’s theatre, an album or radio, and I want it to be inspirational – that’s what art should be.”
Fame – The Musical will run from 18 to 23 February at the New Wimbledon Theatre. The UK tour continues through to November 2019 including York’s Opera House from 4 to 9 March.
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