DYS students offer up ‘fantastic’ show

Months and months of hard work and dedication were unmistakable last week as Donald Young School students presented their fourth-annual production—“Bugsy Malone.”
The show ran Wednesday through Friday in the school gym, with daytime performances offered to students in the area.
“It was just amazing—fantastic all around,” enthused director Katherine Williams. “It just got better and better from Wednesday night.
“Since it was opening night, there were still a few glitches, but by the following night, it was the best it could be.”
A children’s gangster musical loosely based on events in Chicago during Prohibition, the show followed the rivalry between two gangs and a “washed up but well-meaning” boxer named Bugsy Malone.
Bugsy, who was played by Conner Pocock, ended up taking control of Fat Sam’s (Sam Jackson) gang and helped defeat Dandy Dan (Maxwell Williams) and his gang.
Some of the other characters included Fizzy (Isaac Firth), Blousey Brown (Kennedy Latimer), Tallulah (Carina Mack/Phoebe Firth), and Lena Marrelli (Krista Emond/Haley Trimble)—just to name a few.
The show, written by Alan Parker, with music and lyrics by Paul Williams, originally was a 1976 movie starring Jodie Foster and Scott Baio—then 13 and 14 years old, respectively.
“After the last performance, some of the kids cried because they were so upset it was over,” Williams remarked. “They had been working so hard since November and they had so much fun.”
She was utterly impressed by the students’ dedication, as well as their improvement throughout the rehearsals and performances.
“They began improvising,” she enthused. “They became so comfortable in their roles, they were able to add upon what they practised because they knew people would laugh.
“Things got funnier and their actions were more natural.”
She noted assistant director Patty McNally didn’t even have to prompt the kids their lines after opening night.
Williams indicated it was, perhaps, their best show yet, following past performances such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Kids of Camelot,” and “Peter Pan.”
The show came from a Broadway junior collection, which prepares musicals especially for youths in Grades 4-9. However, the 60-member cast at Donald Young School included students from Grades 1-8.
And it also was the first time the students had taken on a true musical, as opposed to a play.
“The kids picked up the tunes so quickly,” Williams noted, adding she had no problem getting the boys to sing.
There even was a chorus of dancing girls, and special guest appearances by some school staff members and parents.
“Having the kids see some of the parents and teachers involved really made their day,” Williams said.
She noted she’s heard nothing but positive comments about the performances from parents, people in the community, and students from the other schools.
After the daytime shows, the cast shook hands with the students on their way out.
“It made the kids smile—they felt like little movie stars,” Williams said.
In addition to the fantastic performances, Williams also was thrilled with the audience turnout—playing to nearly a sold-out crowd each night.
They made a profit, with a portion going towards next year’s show. The rest will go to the school to help fund programs and projects there.
Williams added the show couldn’t have been a success without the support from the school staff, volunteers, and parents, who helped with the props, costumes, and scenery.
“It took a lot of co-operation and it is always a learning experience,” she admitted. “I’m always thinking of things I could have done differently.”
And Williams already is looking ahead to next year because the kids have been asking what the next show will be.
Although she has some ideas, a decision hasn’t been made yet.
“I’ll know by May because we have to order the scripts. . . . We’ve done something from every era now, so I want something really different,” Williams said.
However, she noted it will be another musical—and has to be a show that will entice the boys to participate.
“I seem to have an increase in boys every year,” she noted. “So I think we’ll get a good group of them again next year.”
The previous shows performed at the school have alternated male and female leads, so next year’s show likely will feature a female principal role. But Williams assures it will be appealing to both boys and girls.
“It is a lot of work to put the whole thing together, but it really is so worthwhile, especially when you see the end product and how the kids just beam,” she stressed.