Bugsy Malone takes us into the tough world of prohibition-era gangsters in America – but with a twist.
The classic tale takes us into the world of street-tough boxing promoter Bugsy – a world run by kids, where cars are pedal-driven and tommy guns ‘splurge’ custard.
The Kings Theatre is presenting a new production of the landmark musical, featuring youngsters from 23 schools across the region.
Based on the 1976 musical film, it was the debut feature of director Alan Parker who has gone on to have an illustrious career.
We follow Bugsy’s star-crossed love with singer Blousey Brown (over the attentions of her glamorous rival Tallulah), and his pivotal role in the struggle between the rival mob factions of Fat Sam and Dandy Dan.
The show is directed by Carl Sanderson, whose previous credits include West End Productions and National Tours of The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Hairspray and Sunset Boulevard.
Jacqueline Willis will be familiar to local fans of am-dram as a regular on stage with The Portsmouth Players. But for this show she’s taking on the role of choreographer.
‘This is new for me,’ says Jacqueline. ‘I feel I’m out to prove a point. I’m used to doing Portsmouth Players shows and I’m quite at home there, this is quite a big step for me. I’m a teacher, I’m a full-time carer for my parents, I’m a mum, but this is amazing really, I’m really honoured to do it, and I only hope it’s all right!’
It is something of a return to her roots for Jacqueline though, as she used to choreograph for summer shows and with Disney among others, ‘but that was way back in the day’, she adds with a laugh.
The cast of around 50 youngsters, the oldest in their late teens, were chosen after three rounds of auditions.
‘In Portsmouth you’re not scraping around for talented youngsters – it’s great here for the arts and culture in that respect.
‘The kids are like sponges. You can set an adult company a routine and it will take them three days. The children, they’ll get it in five minutes!
‘And they arrived on their first day off their scripts. It takes us ages – but they’re brilliant to work with and they’re so receptive.’
Despite the show’s subject matter in this child-friendly affair no-one dies, they merely get splurged with custard – and it’s all the cast want to do in rehearsals.
‘At the end of the show, basically everyone gets splurged – so we’ll be hoping to get more faces than costumes – it could get very messy!
‘That’s all the kids want to do, they’re like: “Let’s do it now, let’s do it now…”
The Kings Theatre, Southsea