The curtain has fallen on a Christ’s Hospital first – the Junior production has traditionally always been a play, but this year director’s Caroline Kelley and Zoe Munday ambitiously tackled Alan Parker’s classic, Bugsy Malone. The result? A total of four performances of fun and frolicking, splurge and sequins and a cast and crew of 75 pupils having the time of their lives.
Perhaps most noticeable here was the variety of talent and skills on show. From Leo M, the Year Eight who played and sung the opening and closing numbers, to Toga B from Year Nine who danced and sang the famous ‘Tomorrow’ with terrific commitment and focus, this was not just a show about the lead characters. The crew and band were made up of pupils from all year groups, to show the depth of skill on offer. It would however be very difficult not to give mention to those pupils who led the cast so ably. George O a Year Nine music scholar made his debut in the eponymous role of ‘Bugsy,’ working closely with Georgina C who was so impressive as ‘Smee’ in last year’s production of ‘Wendy and Peter Pan.’ They were supported by Year Eight Kwame A as Dandy Dan and Beverly M from Year Nine who gave added ‘sass’ to the role of ‘Tallulah.’ The distinct differences in the direction of the gangs by Kelley and Munday worked particularly well as the story was lifted from 20s Chicago to 1920s London. Here we saw the rather unhinged and ramshackle ‘Fat Sam’s gang’ alongside the clever but devious, ‘Dandy Dan’s gang.’ This was painted with broad strokes in ‘We could have been anything..’ which was funny and timed to perfection under the leadership of choreographer Victoria Perry.
Amongst the really strong ensemble of boxers and down-and-outs was a shining star from Year Seven Maceo B whose cockney creation of Fat Sam drew laughter from the audience in every scene. This was a cheeky character that perfectly encapsulated Parker’s aims with the play – the audience is supposed to laugh at Fat Sam but love him all the same and hope that, as the underdog, he will shine through. From the evidence of the audience at this performance of Christ’s Hospital’s Bugsy Malone, there was certainly a lot of love for this particular portrayal of ‘Sam.’ As Simon Ashdown’s moody and creative set was bought down, and the brilliant ‘Bicycle car’ (driven by Bugsy for one of Sam’s shady deals’) was wheeled off, stories from the directors emerged of a near catastrophe that nearly saw the show not making it to opening night.
Co-director Caroline Kelly saod: “Despite our telling the performers to go easy with the splurge, they got a little carried away at the dress rehearsal. By the time we had reached opening night, supplies were running very low and we were almost empty. Luckily we managed to get in an emergency supply, but it was touch and go!”
Luckily for the sell-out audience splurge was replenished and a classical musical could be staged by the talented pupils, with the future for drama and theatre at Christ’s Hospital looking bright. The next production of West Side Story will be performed at Christ’s Hospital from Thursday, November 29 to Saturday, December 1. Tickets can be booked at www.christs-hospital.org.uk.