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You think your school is tough, right? Well, imagine going to the legendary High School for the Performing Arts, the school Fame was based on, where Lee Curreri and the other Fame stars' characters supposedly go!

If you've ever shown the slightest bit of talent in music, dance or drama, you've probably wondered what it would be like to be a professional performer. Maybe you've even taken classes or lessons. Well, imagine going to school and spending more than half you're waking hours concentrating on becoming a performer! That's exactly what students at New York City High School for the Performing Arts do. Do you think you could take the pressure?! It starts off right away, with an audition just as exacting as what a professional dancer, actor or musician would have to endure. Recalls former student Barbara Sarah, "Auditioning was the most terrifying experience of my life. But when I was accepted, I really felt good; I was proud of my talent." Thousands of eighth and ninth graders from all over the city audition, but only 600 are accepted. What the teachers who pass judgment are looking for is not accomplishment, that would be unrealistic. What they expect to see is potential, and it's immediately visible in those who have it. Then comes the really hard part learning the craft. Students at "P.A.," as the school is affectionately known, spend half the school day working in their chosen disciplines. Then they'll add a course in a second area of the arts, to keep them "balanced." And, naturally, there's a full academic program, featuring all the courses you know and hate, like algebra, French and biology. And, of course, there are frequent performances-not nearly as many as you see on the TV show, but more than enough to keep anyone busy! Plus there are after-school activities as well as professional auditions! "What you have to remember," says Lee Curreri, who plays "Bruno Martelli" on the TV series, "is that it is not "fame" school. It's for real." Oddly enough, although Lee's Fame character is a P.A. student, and fellow cast members Gene Anthony Ray and Erica Gimpel both attended the real school, Lee never bothered to go. He recently explained, "I didn't go to P.A. because I could have more fun where I was! The high school I went to was more like the real world, and so it turned out to be good for me! "They didn't have anything in the way of arts," he continued. "They had a band. The band was so bad I used to have some of the kids play wrong notes on purpose because it was so awful it was funny," he adds impishly. But Lee has had a very close source to draw on for stories about Performing Arts - his younger brother, John! "He tells me the things he does in school. They work on movie scenes, which is really great. You know that was unheard of when I was in school. I studied acting and my whole theatre thing was to do plays. But he's doing a scene with a friend from 'Mean Streets,' and having a lot of fun," he concludes, with a touch of envy. Lee didn't develop his considerable musical abilities by accident, though! He went to two of New York's best music schools, the Mannes College of Music, and the Manhattan School of Music, but he recalled that, although he did have to audition, "it wasn't strenuous. "Of course," he laughs wryly, the high school I went to really did equip me for the real world of show business by getting me used to misunderstanding and rejection." And you may think that as a star of a hit TV series, Lee doesn't experience much of that now, but he says he still does. Some of his colleagues, however, did it another way. Erica Gimpel, who plays ''Coco," graduated from the real P.A. last year, and was so serious about her studies that she even missed some tapings so that she could complete her coursework. And Carlo Imperato ("Danny Amatullo"), like many actors who turned professional while still in their teens, attended Professional Children's School, a New York program with flexible hours. That allows performers to work while still earning their high school diplomas. What about you? Could you make it at the High School for Performing Arts? Well, good news: you don't have to! Lee advises that if you are talented in the arts but are still in school, don't worry! Study as hard as you can after school and on weekends; get involved in every school and local production you can. If you can hack the pace so for, then you're doing okay. Dedication is more important than anything and yes - it can bring you fame, so as the song goes' "You can live forever". Now, do you still wanna live forever?


This interview/article provided by Timothy Newton.

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