Recap: Ms. Grant has temporarily put Leroy in charge of dance class, and he lets the power go to his head and chides Coco for being late. Coco asks him why he's busting her chops, so he says he wanted to know what it was like to be on the other side of the lecture that he so frequently gets from Ms. Grant...and the class heartily chuckles.
A young boy sneaks into the School of the Arts and skulks around the halls, peeking into various classrooms. He comes upon the dance gym, and watches in fascination as Leroy gyratingly leads the class in a warm-up exercise.
Ms. Grant is in the office, talking to an actor named Cliff Armbruster. He asks her if the school would be willing to participate in the upcoming Actors' Fund Benefit, and she says yes and says she'll do her best to free up the theater. Mrs. Berg, who's eavesdropping as per usual, asks Cliff if he's Mr. Hurry Scurry...and if so, could he perform his funny schtick? He indulges her and performs his lines from the coffee commercial he's best known for, and Mrs. Berg giggles like a schoolgirl and asks for his autograph.
When class lets out, the young boy continues to roam the halls...and Miss Sherwood thinks she spots him, but when he suddenly disappears she doubts herself. She runs into Leroy and asks him if he just saw a small boy, and he scrunches his face in confusion and says no. She then reminds him that he hasn't yet turned in his term paper, and orders him to come by her classroom after school so she can continue to berate him about it.
Ms. Grant introduces Mr. Reardon to Cliff...and Mr. Reardon lights up and says, "I know who you are!" and runs through his resume of performing arts work: child actor on radio, Broadway shows, a few films, and (most recently) commercials for Pittman's Coffee. When Cliff stares back at him in puzzlement, he explains that he's a TV trivia buff. He then asks Cliff if he would consider coming to his drama class and give his students a pep talk about how to succeed in the industry, and Cliff mulls that over and agrees.
The wandering boy sneaks into the empty theater, then gets on stage and tap dances and leaps around until Leroy enters. When the boy sees him, he races backstage and hides in the dressing room, but Leroy easily finds him. He asks him what he's doing here, and he says he's trying to pick up some new dance steps. He then tries to bolt, but Leroy catches him and him puts him over his knee...and for a minute I thought he was going to spank him, but he ends up searching his pockets and finds a knife.
Mr. Reardon brings Cliff to his drama class...and Danny perks up and says he recognizes him from the coffee commercial, then does a horrible sounding impersonation. Cliff pretends to look impressed and tells Danny he's very good, and Danny smugly calls himself "the star of tomorrow", which...LOL, shut up, Danny. When the rest of the class laughs, Cliff tut tuts them and says they actually need to start thinking of themselves that way. When he's asked to talk about his career, he tells the class that ever since he hired a commercial agent, he's worked steadily for six years. Coco makes a blech face and says that the School of the Arts is teaching them how to be "fine actors", then haughtily declares that commercials don't challenge an actor. Cliff says he doesn't disagree with that, then wryly adds, "But they offer a lot of money" and warns them about all the "fine actors" in the country who are currently unemployed. So suck on that, Coco.
The young boy tells Leroy his name is Lewis Washington, and that he bought the knife 'cause he needs a way to protect himself from street thugs. When Leroy asks him about his dancing aspirations, Lewis says he already knows how to dance, then does a little jig to demonstrate his tap dancing abilities. He says he'd like to expand his repertoire to other types of dance (e.g. the kind of gyrating boogie that Leroy favors) so his dad will be proud of him, then explains that his dad - Samuel Washington - used to be a famous tap dancer. Sadly, however, he now spends his time slothing around the house watching TV. Leroy says he has no time to give him dance lessons, then dismissively tells him he should be in school. Well d'yuh.
In one of the music rooms, Doris is playing guitar and humming for Bruno. He shrugs in his usual I'm-soooo-world-weary manner and says it's good, but needs work. Doris takes that as a giant compliment and says she'd like for him to write the lyrics, but he grumbles, "I don't write lyrics for other people." She argues that this would "stretch" him and that he should, for some reason, be proud to do this for her...then leaves him with her music sheets before beating a hasty retreat.
Miss Sherwood informs Leroy that he's pretty close to being thrown out of school for not turning in his English term paper...and he tries to make a break for it, but she barks at him to sit his ass down. He whines, "I've tried, damn it!" and she tells him he's the only person in the class (nay, school) who hasn't handed in his work - and without it, he'll get an incomplete for the class. Leroy grumbles that he doesn't know what to write about, and that whenever he looks at a piece of blank paper, he "gets so mad". For added emphasis, he strikes the blackboard with a piece of chalk then stares down at the floor despondently. Miss Sherwood urges him not to give up, and he glares at her and snarls, "Do you have a better idea?" She suggests he tackle the totally doable task by writing about someone he likes, and that he start by writing one page at a time. He sneers and says, "You make it sound easy" and she counters, "And you make it sound so impossible. It isn't." Argggggg...just shut up and do your damn homework, Leroy.
As Leroy glumly shuffles down the hall, Lewis falls into step behind him. Leroy turns around and glares at him, then tells him he can't give him dance lessons 'cause he has to write an essay - otherwise he'll get kicked out of school. He then asks him if Samuel Washington is really his dad, and Lewis is like, "Yep. He's probably sacked out on the couch right now, watching Magnum P.I." The wheels in Leroy's brain suddenly start turning, and he tells Lewis he's going to have to "give something to get something".
Lewis brings Leroy home to the apartment he shares with his dad. Leroy sits next to the la-z-boy chair Samuel Washington is lounging on, pulls out his notebook, and starts peppering the aged dancer with questions. Samuel wistfully reminisces about all the clubs he used to dance in, and that he once danced in a chorus at the Apollo Theater. He then suddenly pulls a 180 and tells Leroy that dancing is a dead end street and snarks, "They lied to me. A dream that never was" and says that by the time he realized he was living a dead end life, it was too late for him. He tells Leroy it's not too late for him or Lewis, then storms off to his bedroom. As Leroy stares at the floor despondently, Lewis earnestly argues, "It ain't true. You know it ain't true." (Mmm...it's probably true.)
Mr. Shorofsky is gabbling to his music class about classical theory...and he notices that Bruno is ignoring the lecture as he works on the lyrics to Doris' song. An irked Mr. Shorofsky asks him to stand up and share whatever he's working on with everyone, and Bruno reluctantly recites the lyrics of the sad, mopey song about how life isn't always about happy dreams...or some such drivel. Mr. Shorofsky makes a face and gives him his verdict: corny.
During the rehearsal for the Actors' Fund Benefit, Leroy can't concentrate on his gyrating 'cause he's too busy staring over at Lewis, who's watching him from behind the curtain. Ms. Grant barks at him to focus, and reminds him that they all have less than a week to put the number together. She then tells everyone that a lot of pros in the business will be in attendance, and that they deserve the best that the Fame kids have to offer. Cliff, who's observing, interjects and tells everyone they're doing great...then admonishes Ms. Grant for bitchily putting them down all the time. Haha!
During lunch, Bruno grumbles to Doris about how torturous it is to have to write the lyrics to her music, which is completely nonsensical 'cause isn't songwriting supposed to be one of his greatest passions in life? Doris decides he needs more feedback, then invites herself to his house later so they can collaborate and "really blitz this thing". Ugh...I sense a performance looming.
Cliff joins the Fame kids at their lunch table and chats with them about showbiz. He says it's important to have connections, so Danny takes that advice to heart and brazenly asks Cliff to help him get an acting gig. Coco, on the other hand, looks appalled and accuses Cliff of taking shortcuts and selling himself to the highest bidder, then sanctimoniously declares that commercials aren't real acting. She bitchily asks, "Who are you to give us advice? You're not even a real actor!" and stomps off. Danny waves a hand dismissively in the air and tells Cliff not to listen to anything Coco the Airhead says.
Lewis demonstrates his tap dancing ability to Leroy on the stairs...then taps over to the foyer, and a group of students who happen to be passing by get into it and cheer him on. Leroy joins him and taps/gyrates his way across the floor, then shows Lewis some new moves that involve a lot of twirling and strange looking arm wiggling. Across the foyer, Ms. Grant and Miss Sherwood emerge from the office and look impressed by the synchronized dancing, and Leroy introduces them to Lewis and proudly says, "He's a friend of mine."
Doris is in Bruno's basement, working on the lyrics for her music. Bruno starts playing the music on his synthesizer...and, just as I was dreading, Doris sings along with her new lyrics. (This is where I zoned out until the commercial break.)
Ms. Grant asks Leroy why he hasn't turned in his English term paper yet, then warns him that Miss Sherwood will have no choice but to fail him if he continually refuses to do the absolute bare minimum when it comes to his academics. Leroy nonsensically grumbles, "If Samuel Washington can't make it, what chance do I have?" Ms. Grant assures him that, in theory, a successful career in dance is possible...then asks him if he's going to try or just give up.
Mrs. Berg lures Coco to the theater by telling her that Mr. Reardon wanted to meet with her...but when she gets there, Cliff is standing on the stage. As Coco scrunches her face in confusion and is all, "Wha-at's happening?", Cliff performs a scene from a Shakespearean play to showcase his acting skill, and he's actually not bad. Coco looks impressed and tells him he was pretty good...and he says that the rude shit she blurted out to him in the cafeteria was accurate 'cause, yes, his acting muscle does need work. He says he's well aware he's not Laurence Olivier, but insists he works very hard at what he does. He tells her that his commercial gigs sent two kids to college and also paid the hospital bills when his wife became terminally ill. He says that his "average life" didn't deserve the snarky judgement she gave him...then politely thanks her for listening and heads toward the exit. Coco sheepishly tries to apologize, but Cliff cuts her off and advises, "Leave the door open for doubt and compassion next time, you impertinent, judgemental, snotty nosed brat." (I added the name-calling 'cause I thought Cliff was far too polite.)
Leroy drops by Samuel Washington's apartment to tell the washed up has-been that he still needs a title for his English essay...and says it as if the man could possibly care less. He was going to call the essay Dancer, but isn't so sure anymore. As Samuel broodily drinks his beer, Leroy reminds him he has a son who wants nothing more than to be a dancer - just like his dad - and Samuel scrunches his face sadly and contemplatively stares into space. When no retort looks forthcoming, Leroy throws in the towel and heads out, passing Lewis on the way. He tells him he'll be performing in the benefit tonight, and Lewis wishes him good luck.
Right before the show, the Fame kids are in the dressing room getting ready...and Cliff pokes his head into the room and wishes them all good luck. Danny bursts in and tells Leroy that someone urgently needs to talk to him...and that someone turns out to be Lewis and his dad. Leroy looks touched by their presence on his big night and cheerily tells the old man he's going to have to rewrite his essay. Weird. I thought he just needed to make a final decision on the essay's title. [Dancer sounded fine to me...so just write that word in caps on the top of page one and turn the dumb thing in before Miss Sherwood expels you.]
Cliff introduces the show as "a classic of song and dance", and then Leroy bounds on stage and starts singing "Singing in the Rain". He notices Lewis and Samuel standing backstage and urges Lewis to join him, and Lewis taps onto the stage...and somehow he knows all the moves of the number and dances in perfect unison with Leroy. When they finally wrap up the performance, the audience applauds...and Leroy is so thrilled, he throws Lewis in the air. Yippee!!
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