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Walthamstow Community Production's version of Bugsy Malone
Featuring a cast of local people, Walthamstow Community Production’s version of Bugsy Malone was performed last month at Leyton Great Hall (credit Louise Weir)

Cast of local actors stage interactive performance of Bugsy Malone at historic venue, write Anna Merryfield and Ffion Plant

Leyton Great Hall became a portal last month, transporting audience members from the streets of Waltham Forest into the heart of 1920s New York.

Those lucky enough to grab a hot ticket to Walthamstow Community Production’s staging of Bugsy Malone will not forget this experience in a hurry!

Upon entering the venue, we were immediately met by a mob of rabble rousers, all clambering for our attention and sporting thick ‘downtown’ New York accents. A copy of the Forest Tribute was thrust into our hands with news of Fat Sam’s latest antics splashed across the front page. Before we knew it we were being ushered into Tallulah’s dressing room where a chorus of flapper girls were checking their make-up while Tallulah herself, played by Isabelle Scerri, sat fixing her jewellery at her mirror.

Every direction we turned, we met new characters with different agendas; reporters, shoe shiners, boxers and gangsters, to name a few. By the time we made our way upstairs we were already fully immersed in the world of Bugsy Malone and the streets of Leyton felt a million miles away.

Directed by Ruth and Max Peters, with a cast of almost 200, Walthamstow Community Production remained true to their commitment of fostering an inclusive space for the whole community – their plays have no age limit and auditions are only for the lead roles. Performances ranged from a formidable gang of ‘bad guys’ who sang with much gusto despite being the youngest members of the cast, to the beautiful sound of local group Choir17 and some stellar sparring from the boxers in the golden ring. Isaac Jones played the role of Bugsy with confidence and charm and was accompanied by a fantastic group of leads.

The magic behind the scenes was co-ordinated by a team of local volunteers, all giving up their time and experience to pull everything together. Finally, the show was carried along by an incredible ensemble of musicians, directed by Sarah Le Fol.

This immersive piece was a feat of community collaboration and the whole cast should be proud of the result.