Thirty youngsters at Tweed Theatre are currently brushing up their acting, singing and dancing skills and, for the first time, learning how to make a proper mess on stage.
Bugsy Malone, to be performed at the Eastgate Theatre in late September, calls for gallons of gloop to be thrown, shot from splurge guns and generally smeared all over the place in a finale in which two rival gangs meet for the showdown to end all showdowns.
Finlay Sinclair, who plays Bugsy, commented “It’s great! Normally my mum goes mad if I make a mess, but here I get to throw custard pies at whoever I like!”
Fat Sam’s empire is slowly being taken over and his mob being beaten by the suave, sophisticated Dandy Dan and his gang. So he turns to Bugsy Malone, a boxing promoter with no money or fighters, for help in recruiting new personnel to protect his last remaining stronghold, his eponymous jazz dive.
Helping to stage the showdown are Fat Sam’s latest squeeze, Tallulah, Bugsy’s sweetheart Blousey Brown, a bevy of chorus girls who have similar designs on Bugsy, and dear old Fizzy, a man who is never without a broom or shoeshine cloth. Throw in a mix of other unlikely and undesirable characters and you have a plot ready to boil over with laughs, comic chases and the occasional tender moment.
Director Tim Wilcock and Producer Katharine Mathison have had the herculean task of corralling the 30 youngsters who successfully auditioned back in May through a series of complex dance numbers and fight sequences. And in between are moments of emotion and pathos that require the actors to display a level of character development and empathy that would test many adults.
Mathison, who with Fiona Henderson is in charge of the choreography, noted that “the standard of singing and dancing in rehearsals has been excellent, even if sorting out right and left has proved challenging for some of the cast – and not necessarily the younger ones!”
Tim Wilcock has been delighted with the progress so far: “Running rehearsals over a summer will always prove challenging as people come and go on holidays”, he said. “But everyone learned their words quickly, so we’ve been able to use rehearsal time to focus on character development – bringing the words on the page to life – rather than having to worry about the words themselves.
“And we’ve got a very talented bunch of actors, including one youngster who has emerged from the chorus to become a stand-out performer in what is her first time in a main stage production for Tweed Theatre.”
With more than 90 separate parts in this smash hit of a production, most actors have at least three other roles to play besides the one they were originally picked for.
So expect a lot of comings and goings, frantic costume changes and, if you’re sitting in the front row, watch out for the gloop!
Performances are at 7.30pm on September 25-27, at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles. There is also a 2.30pm matinee on September 27.
Tickets can be booked from the Eastgate box office on 01721 725777.