Bugsy Malone rehearsal diary: Week 3

Published April 16, 2015

Get your splurge guns at the ready and custard pies to hand, Bugsy Malone has officially begun at the Lyric Hammersmith. Choreographer Drew McOnie takes us back to last week’s tech week, when rehearsals sped to a finish and the show came together with lighting and set, to fill us in on how the preparations went.

Energy is high as we come to the conclusion of our time in the rehearsal room and move into tech. Time to take the splurge to the theatre (secret formula not for public consumption, but suffice to say everyone smells of candy floss afterwards!).

From the rehearsal room we move on to the main stage at the Lyric Hammersmith with our young cast, and we all take a moment when we realise how tiny some of the younger members of the cast look on the magnificent stage. Jon Bausor’s set design brings 1930s New York right to the centre of Hammersmith.

It’s daunting but also incredibly exciting to make the final move into the world of Bugsy Malone; lights… costume… and splurge aplenty… I’m in awe of the whole cast, taking everything they have learned in the rehearsal room to the stage, tackling the space with real aplomb!

The tech brings some rather obvious challenges, especially for this show as we have three teams of under 16s rehearsing and performing in rotation, as well as our extraordinary over 16s who do every show and rehearsal. In a normal show you would work through from beginning to end but with Bugsy Malone you work through one scene then have to repeat it two more times. There is no skipping over moments, we have to be consistent and methodical about everything to ensure everybody is up to date as we work and problem solve, from door openings to setting chair places.

This is the week when lighting and sound meet with the direction, music and choreography in a much more tangible way; each department complementing each other to create the realm that the characters of Bugsy Malone inhabit. What is also helping to keep the energy high is that quite a few of the cast are experiencing the tech process for the first time, so there is wonderful rediscovery of the excitement of creating theatre through the eyes of those making their debuts.

We’re a very integrated creative team, although Phil [Bateman, the musical director] and I are slightly newer to the team (Jon, the designer, James [Farncombe], the lighting designer, and Sean [Holmes], the director, have all worked together before) we feel like we’ve been welcomed wholeheartedly – something that can be quite rare, especially for someone like me who as a choreographer can be brought in to only choreograph specific dances. But working on this show doesn’t feel like that at all, Sean has inspired a great environment where everybody is able to contribute an opinion and we’re truly working a well-oiled unit towards a common goal.

We are speeding towards first preview and cannot wait to share everything that is happening during the tech with our first audience!

Bugsy Malone is now playing at the Lyric Hammersmith. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.

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"There is wonderful rediscovery of the excitement of creating theatre through the eyes of those making their debuts."