Director: Claudia Pepler and Amy Maughan
all photographs are the property of Dave Merritt Photography
Bugsy Malone Dillon Berry
Tallulah Astrid Bishop
Blousey Brown Georgia Ashford Miller
Fat Sam Jack Brotherton
Dandy Dan Ollie Lamb
Fizzy Emma Aspray
Lena Marelli Phoebe Hughes
Cagey Joe Archie Fogg
Joe Annabella Fairgrieve
Knuckles Gabriel Galley
Leroy Alexandra Ibbitson
Captain Smolsky Tabitha Lamb
Seymour Scoop Tamlin Head
Fat Sam’s Gang:
Snake Eyes Verity Hughes
Ritzy Charlotte Young
Louis Libby Brotherton
Angelo Lauren Green
Marlin Ellie Bradfield
Rascal 1 Violet Ascott
Rascal 2 Rosa Luna-Lopez
Dandy Dan’s Gang:
Benny Lee Rory Wilson
Doodles Charlotte Cusack-Brown
Shoulders Ned McCarthy
Bronx Charlie Hannah Luna-Lopez
Spaghetti Niamh Ward
Gaga Grace Lloyd
Laughing Boy Rosie Jones
Brooklyn Jim Maddy Casey
Yonkers Harvey Lamb
Dandy Dan’s Girls:
Velma Bee Thomas
Louella Laura O’Brien
Bangles Maisie Fogg
Loretta Flo Boventer
Billie Emily Ibbitson
Tillie Harriet Cooper
Dottie Beth Chalmers
Sapphire Tabby Hughes
Coral Liv Selby
Kiki Lily Lucas
Marbini the Magician Bea Peterson
Shady Faireday Head
Oscar De Velt Freya Hyde
Roxy Robinson Harvey Kingsley
Looney Bargonzy Freya Green
Babyface Emily Andres
O’Dreary Lottie Jones
Review by Scarlett Sangster
“Opening night at the Merlin Theatre’s summer youth production of Bugsy Malone:
Curtain’s open on the first night of the Merlin Theatre’s summer youth production, and the eponymous Bugsy, played by 14-year-old Dillon Berry, moves into the spotlight; hat slightly askew, a telling swagger to his gait. As the overture fades, Bugsy addresses his audience, immediately breaking the fourth wall and setting up an intimate relationship which will hold his audience with him throughout the show.
From the moment the lights come up on the double-story hand-crafted set, the Tri-art Dance and Theatre School transport us back in time to an era of flapper dresses and suavely suited crooks. From costumes to set design, from the dusky lighting, right down to each individual prop, it is clear that a lot of time and thought has gone into the details, and it pays off as the young cast take to the stage and the live band, arranged and directed by Jack Vincent, infuses the scene with a sense of theatrical authenticity.
Set in 1920’s New York, during the height of the prohibition period, Bugsy Malone casts the spotlight on an underground speakeasy scene dominated by Gangsters and decorated by jazz music and sassy show-girls. The story follows Bugsy as he finds himself caught up in the conflict between notorious gang leaders Fat-Sam and Dandy-Dan, a rivalry destined for disaster.
The all-child cast make light of the dark period their story inhabits, as violent death scenes are subverted in comedy fashion by effect of silly string and shaving foam.
Otherwise, it is easy to forget that this extremely talented cast are all under the age of 16. Among the strong line of principles is 13-year old Jack Brotherton, whose performance in the role of Fat-Sam not only drives the storyline forward but whose expertly timed delivery provides comedy relief to even the most functional scenes. The stand-out line of the show is however delivered by 12 year old Gabriel, whose theatrical pronouncement – ‘No boss, I’m Jewish!’, brought the entire auditorium into fits of laughter.
The quality of the solo vocals is nothing short of astounding, with standout-performance after standout performance making it impossible to identify a favourite. Talent includes 16-year-old Emma Asprey, who’s emotionally charged ballad, accompanied by beautifully executed lyrical choreography performed by rising star Maisie Fogg, marks the most emotionally-moving number of the entire show.
Astrid Bishop meanwhile, conducts a powerful, convincing performance as speakeasy diva, Tallulah, her remarkably natural presence commanding the stage, as her rich, soulful voice exudes the sass and sophistication of her character.
The second half picks up pace, driven by the blossoming romance between Bugsy and wannabe-showgirl Blousey, ever interrupted by the egotistical Tallulah and the crooked activity Bugsy becomes caught up in.
As the final scene surmounts in a chaos of lights, and the tension builds to a climatic ending, the sinister music turns to applause, and the ever enthusiastic, if slightly bedraggled looking cast, take to the stage for a well-deserved standing ovation.
The tremendous talent showcased by such a young cast is truly mind-blowing, director Ryan Hughes and choreographer Sarah Wingrove have put together a gripping show which runs seamlessly from start to finish – a feat worthy of credentials beyond that of an amateur production.”
Review by Allison Herbert
“A marvellous showcase of the talents of the Tri-Art family in Frome was hosted by the Merlin Theatre on 18th August 2016..
Family favourite, Bugsy Malone was a glorious celebration of song, dance and colour to brighten a mid-summer holiday lull and I was truly entranced by the evening’s entertainment. My expectations were high as I entered the theatre, lots of pre-show excitement on social media had led me to believe that the cast and crew were ‘pumped’ and ready to give their all and the reality did not disappoint. After only 2 weeks rehearsal, the show was full of energy but never out of control, and the huge numbers of young people filling the stage were remarkably disciplined, all pulling together to create a fun-filled and confident performance.
The show opened to a beautifully lit Dillon Berry standing in a spotlight; the scene reminded me of an old film poster. Once we are in Fat Sam’s Den, the mood changes as the live band burst into the old favourite ‘Fat Sam’. The stage was filled by the huge cast, dramatically costumed in red and black to co-ordinate with the very effective set and lighting.
From the outset I was particularly impressed with the ensemble singing, both for the quality of the musical expression and the musical theatre ‘magic’. Director Ryan Hughes had clearly instilled his own discipline into this group of talented young people. The entire cast were on track, moving together and all smiling fit to burst. This was a highly professional and dedicated ensemble and their friends and families were rightly very proud.
The storytelling in this version of Bugsy Malone was very effective. I have seen the show many times before, but I have never fully felt that the pies and string were actually threatening. In this production, the acting of those firing and those fired upon, was so convincing that I saw a new side to the play. There was also plenty of humour in the evening’s entertainment, especially brought out my some of the characters like Lottie Jones’ absurdly smiley policeman.
The acting was generally superb of course, from the tiniest characters who were just as convincing despite only being 8 years old. I was particularly impressed by Jack Brotherton’s Fat Sam and Olie Lamb’s Dandy Dan, and I think that the whole audience appreciated Libby Brotherton’s hilarious portrayal of Shakedown Louie. Bugsy Malone was played by Dillon Berry who captured his confidence and ‘coolness’ beautifully. Dillon has a very attractive and confident easy manner on stage and no-one will be surprised to see him on a film set one day!
There was some superb solo singing, in particular from Astrid Bishop as Tallullah and Georgia Ashford-Miller as Blousey. Georgia successfully negotiated the challenge of creating a believable Blousey amongst all the larger than life stereotypes. No-one could fail to have been moved by her open and hopeful face looking up at the audience as she sang ‘Only a Fool’.
Parents who sign their children up for the 2 week Tri-Art performance course can justly feel proud of the huge talent and effort on show. They should also feel very grateful to the team of adults behind the scenes who bring their children’s performances to life on a professional stage. How brilliant that young actors in a small town like Frome can have this opportunity supported by brilliant direction, artistic design and choreography as well as a real life band of professional musicians.”