A cast of gangsters is in Evergreen. You won’t see the streets filled with Tommy guns and ice picks, though. On the contrary, you will see Center/Stage Theatre filled with singing and dancing gangsters caught up in a nonviolent gang war fought with “splurge blasters” that spew forth Silly String. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Evergreen Children’s Chorale will deliver a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the 1920s gangster flick with its upcoming production of “Bugsy Malone, Jr.”
Bugsy came about when Alan Parker, who would later go on to direct such films as “Fame,” “Evita” and “The Wall,” was about to direct his first feature film and wanted to do something his children would enjoy. His eldest son suggested a cast featuring only children. Parker created a show that put a spin on the 1920s gangster stories with an all-child cast. The film was received with critical acclaim, and from it was born the stage show.
The show throws the audience into a speakeasy melodrama. It seems Fat Sam (played by Tomas Feichtinger), who runs one of the most popular clubs in town, is in danger of being closed down by his “business rival,” Dandy Dan (played by Ryan Fesenmeyer). Enter baby-faced Bugsy Malone (played by Danny Lynch), a killer with the ladies and a definite asset to Fat Sam. Unfortunately, Bugsy has also caught the eye of Sam’s girlfriend, Tallulah (played by Samantha Cox) — though he has designs on showgirl Blousey Brown (played by Janelle Bober). The result is a stage full of catchy tunes, light-on-their-feet dancers and a turf war that might even result in a few cream pies being thrown.
“Bugsy” has 47 members in the cast, all dedicated members of the Evergreen Children’s Chorale. The show is designed to be an ensemble production with many singing and speaking parts. Many of the fourth- through eighth-graders are playing multiple parts.
“Bugsy” is a short show by theatrical standards. Rather than being a detriment to the Chorale’s production, director Elaine Sohrweid accepted the condensed length as an opportunity to create an olio. An olio was a light-hearted variety show that accompanied theatrical melodramas. The “Bugsy” olio will contain well-known songs from “Mulan,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Pirates of Penzance,” “Godspell,” “Annie” and more.
“The olio is a collection of numbers that celebrate the Children’s Chorale’s 20 years in existence,” says Sohrweid. “We chose songs from many of the shows we’ve performed over the years. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase our history as well as highlight all of our performers in solos and ensemble performances.”
Pull out your zoot suits and head over to Center/Stage for an evening of fun that will transport you to the days of Al Capone and to all of the magical places celebrated by the Evergreen Children’s Chorale in the last 20 years.
Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.