Dozens of kids are taking to the stage Friday to bring Prince Albert audiences back to the roaring 20s.
Bugsy Malone Junior is the latest production from the Broadway North Youth Company. Based on the 1976 film starring a pre-teen Scott Baio and Jodi Foster, it tells the story of two gangs in a fictitious city populated only by children in a rivalry battling over the splurge gun, a weapon that shoots whipped cream.
Bugsy Malone, a one-time boxer becomes the last chance Fat Sam’s gang has of surviving in the face of Dandy Dan and the splurge gun. All Bugsy wants to do is spend time with his new love, but it doesn’t seem like that’s in the cards.
The youth company has been hard at work since September, and Friday the curtain will go up on the cast’s first of four performances.
“Aside from 73 astounding kids, we’ve got a really incredible production team,” said director Roxanne Dicke.
“We have really pulled it all together from all of the design elements and the actual mechanics of the show. We’re ready to go.”
Wyatt Wright, 14, plays the shows titular character. It’s his first Broadway North show.
“At first I was a little nervous, but as the show comes close, I’m getting really excited.”
Wright was introduced to theatre through a drama club at his school. He participated in the Broadway North summer intensive before returning to the company for its fall show.
He said the singing is the best part, and the dancing has been the hardest.
“I’m not a dancer,” he said.
“It’s been a little stressful at some times, but just running through the play a whole bunch of times and doing dancing — it’s been a lot of fun.”
Ten-year-old Mia Bisson is a dancer. She’s performing in a Broadway North show for the second time, playing a candy girl who gives out candy to the customers of the speakeasy. In the world of the show, the kids’ speakeasy serves all the candy you can eat.
Bisson spoke about how the show has come together.
“It’s a whole bunch of different things,” she said.
“At the start, it’s a jumbled mess, but we slowly change things as we go and it turns into a really nice and fun thing.”
She said she’s made new friends. “They’re really nice. Everybody in the cast is very nice.”
Seeing the cast bond is one of the things Dicke says is so special.
“It’s amazing. Each kid, as we’ve gone through this process, has found some kind of character, some story they’re telling,” she said.
“They’re also a family. What’s astounding is to see them come early and watch them as a unit offstage as much as watching them grow on stage. It’s phenomenal.”
Being a part of the Broadway North Youth Company is about so much more than just learning the music and dances. It started this year with an audition workshop and then a day of auditions. The cast was then determined by the end of the first weekend.
“We expect a lot from our students. It’s a high bar for Broadway North,” Dicke said.
“They’ve worked hard, and we elevate that bar to teach them the process, and rehearsal etiquette and dedication and commitment. They bring it. It’s really up to them. These kids just bring it every week.”
While some of the actors, like Wright, are newcomers, for others, being a part of the theatre company has become a family tradition.
“There are lots of first-timers, and there’s some where we’ve got the third child of the family,” Dicke said.
“It’s a tradition now for a lot of families, mixed in with some kids who are just brand new to us. It’s amazing. They’re all absorbed into this world together.”
Besides coming to see the show for the kids themselves, Dicke said this year’s production is a ton of fun.
“The music is amazing — swingin’ 20s,” she said.
‘The costumes are suits and flapper dresses, the storyline is so much fun. It ends with this positive, incredible reinforcement about friendship and working together. It’s not a Disney princess. We created the speakeasy as if kids would create a speakeasy. It’s this place full of candy and there are no adults. They’re just working out their differences and their conflicts. We’re really watching the kids’ story, and that’s what Bugsy Malone is all about.”
As for the actors, they seemed more excited than nervous to hit the stage.
“Definitely,” Bisson said when asked if she was excited.
“(People) should come and see it because we’re a family. We put a lot of hard work into this, so it would really make us happy if you guys came.”
“It’s been really cool just watching the dances and seeing how far we’ve come since the beginning,” added Wright.
“I think it would be really nice to support the actors here, and if you want to have a good laugh, it’d be fun to take your family to.”
Bugsy Malone Junior runs Nov. 29 and 30 and December 6 and 7 at the Rawlinson Centre. The show starts at 7 p.m. As of press time, there are limited tickets available for Friday’s show. Tickets are $20 and are available at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre box office.