A Jack in the Box production by Warren Players — ‘Bugsy Malone Jr.’ — July 25-28 at Struthers
They’ve all been bitten by the acting bug, and now this talented troupe of young actors is ready to take the stage in “Bugsy Malone Jr.,” a Jack in the Box production by Warren Players.
Directed by Jen Bailey, “Bugsy” is a tongue-in-cheek musical tribute to the gangster films of the 1920s. The production runs July 25, 26 and 27 at 7 p.m., and July 28 at 2 p.m. at the historic Struthers Library Theatre.
The cast features 27 actors ranging in age from 8 to 16, many of whom are no strangers to the theater. They share a passion for acting, singing, and dancing, and making new friends through the rehearsal process.
Ethan Monroe, who plays Bugsy, started acting in elementary school. After his first role as a seagull in “The Little Mermaid,” he couldn’t wait for another opportunity to be on stage.
“It ignited a spark in me. It’s just something I love doing,” he said. Every role “was a motivation to keep going and strive for even bigger roles out there.”
After moving to Warren, he got involved with the Library Theatre’s ARTE and APT programs, and the Warren County School District’s all-county musicals.
“I love seeing new people, new faces… I love the thrill of getting on stage and everyone looking at you. It might be a little nerve-wracking but I love that feeling,” he said. “Ask any actor and they will tell you they get butterflies – and I kinda like that. It gives me a new sense of confidence that I never knew I had.”
A relative newcomer to the theater, Jadenne Fofana has embraced recent opportunities to perform. While in fifth grade, she auditioned and earned a role in the all-county junior musical production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” Following that, with roles in “Willy Wonka” and “South Pacific,” she’s enjoying the summer rehearsals for “Bugsy.”
“You pretty much get to have a lot of fun and make new friends and enjoy theater,” she said. “The choreography is the most fun and the most challenging part of the practices. There’s a lot of it, in this show!”
A passion for singing inspired Colin Drayer to get involved.
“I was always a huge fan of singing and I always thought of becoming an actor,” he said. “I decided to try out for ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ and had an insane amount of fun with that. Then early this year I moved onto South Pacific. Then I was in ‘Newsies’ – and now I’m here!”
Drayer said the most fun for him is the learning process.
“It’s always exciting when you first get your script and you think, ‘oh, boy, I get to learn all these new lines.’ Then also the songs are one of the main parts I enjoy because I love learning new songs, it just makes me happy.” He said the most challenging part of the learning process is learning the dances. “I’m not the best dancer, so probably the choreography is the hardest for me.”
They can thank fellow cast members Marylin Shene and Logan Johnson for all those dance steps. The two took on the additional responsibility of co-choreographers early in the process and have not only learned their own parts but also taught the cast all the dance numbers for the production.
Shene has a background in dance but eventually discovered that theater was her passion.
“The whole theater atmosphere is so amazing. Everyone has a place, there’s no judgment. And everyone meshes in the most beautiful possible way,” she said.
She and Johnson spent many late nights working to develop each number. As two of the older members of the cast, they quickly developed a rapport with the younger actors and were able to quickly teach them the fundamental dance steps.
“We enjoyed it so much and the kids are such a big part of that. The kids are all so sweet and they work so hard and one thing really special about them is they’re so happy to be here. Jen will start the music and they’re all doing the dances on the side and singing and everyone knows everyone’s parts,” Shene said. “It’s such a happy, positive environment because the kids have made it that way.”
What should audiences expect when they come to see “Bugsy”?
“What I think people will like the most is that it’s really funny and it’s a family show,” said Elissa Errett, who plays Blousey.
“We make each other laugh during practices – it’s really funny!”
The show features Ethan Monroe as Bugsy, Elissa Errett as Blousey, Colin Drayer as Fat Sam, Derek Hahn as Dandy Dan, Logan Johnson as Fizzy, Jadenne Fofana as Tallulah, and Abigail Wilson as Lena. Chorus Girls are Caroline Smyth, Sydney Johnson, Hanna Hoffman, and Macy Winicki. Fat Sam’s Gang members are Sarah Harvey, Sam Smith, Anabelle Harvey, and Ella Getner. Dandy Dan’s Gang includes Cayla Chapman, Abiana Edwards, Marylin Shene, Andrew Bailey, and Broc Bryan. Ensemble/Speakeasy Customers are Ivy Moore, Chevelle Yeskey (Marbini The Magician), Maxwell Smith, Chalina Abreu (Opera Singer), Sammy White (Ventriloquist), Emma Kisselbach (Trumpet Player on Skates), and Morgan Alexander.
Production crew includes Director – Jen Bailey, Production Manager – Kelsey Angove, Choreographers – Marylin Shene and Logan Johnson, Vocal Director – Rachel Harvey, Stage Manager – Christine Smith, Assistant Stage Manager – Michael Stenberg, Sound Lead – Corey Bailey, Costume Lead – Charmaine Check, Hair and Makeup Lead – Cheyenne Stenberg, Properties Coordinator – Julie Fofana, Set Design – Corey Bailey and Steve Watson, Advertising Coordinator – Colette Bonavita, Photographer – Phil Gilbert, Videographer – Todd Ristau, and many other volunteers. Stage Crew includes Jordan Smith, Charlotte Keeports, Jennifer Hoffman and Cindy Conquer.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and free for children 5 and under. Tickets may be purchased by calling the theatre office at (814) 723-7231. They are also available for sale at the box office one hour prior to showtime.
Find out more about the show and other events online at warrenplayers.com and social media sites Facebook.com/warrenplayers, Facebook.com/bugsymalonejr, and Instagram @bugsymalonejr.