A slapstick musical comedy about street gangs and washed-up boxers set in a prohibition-era speakeasy is the next offering from Hāwera Repertory Society.
Bugsy Malone will hit the Hāwera Memorial Theatre stage in February 2021, a full year after the youth cast first began rehearsals.
"We're so pleased we can put this show on. We stopped production and indefinitely postponed rehearsals back in March 2020 and to be honest we weren't sure we'd be able to resume," says Samantha Turner, director.
The cast and crew were not willing to fully cancel the show and agreed to reassess things later in the year. They returned in early November and are making the most of the opportunity to start over.
"There's an absolute embarrassment of young talent in this district and after we did Annie last year, we were eager to offer something that could really give the youth an opportunity to shine," she says.
The talent extends to the production team too - there are youth assistants helping with choreography, musical direction, sound, properties and stage managing alongside each of the department heads. The show also features a live youth band.
Bugsy Malone is played by Josh Bird, a Year 12 Hāwera High School student. His love interest Blousey Brown is played by Abigail Landsborough. Abigail heads away to university almost as soon as the show ends.
They are the leads in a 40-strong youth cast aged 11 to 18 years old. They will all sing, dance and act. Abigail says the show will be her farewell to the Hāwera Repertory stage as she focuses on her studies. They both first performed for Hāwera Repertory in the 2013 production of The Wizard of Oz.
"Blousey's just moved to the city, she's looking for a job, she's kind of shy but also strong-minded," she says.
"We finish shows on the Saturday and I move into my hall on the Sunday. I was really excited to hear we were going to go ahead before I left. I'm doing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Education and Psychology and French so it's going to be busy. Later in life I'll come back to the stage though."
Abigail is using her acting, singing and dance training in her role as Blousey. She began singing at age 11 and has danced for as long as she can remember.
Josh has sung and acted but is not a trained dancer.
"I was always optimistic that it would happen, I was just waiting for it to restart. It's a great concept," he says.
While a little nervous about dancing on stage, he's choosing to focus on each part of the process as it comes. "We'll jump that hurdle when we reach it."
The gap in development and production has allowed Hawera Repertory Society to ensure they can successfully stage the show during Covid-19 levels 1 and 2.
Society president Ron Scott says they will be taking every precaution to ensure the safety of the cast, crew, audience and musicians.
"We're really lucky here. That isn't the reality for many places. We've just successfully finished staging God of Carnage and we know this will work too."
■ Tickets for Bugsy Malone are on sale from iTICKET.co.nz or at the Hāwera iSITE.