LEE Brown was one of the young hopefuls who auditioned for Bugsy Malone at the Towngate Theatre in 1987.

Here he recounts the wonderful experience of playing the character of Captain Smolsky in the big budget show.

“The audition process was both exhilarating and a gruelling test. We spent several days competing against each other for roles.

Hundreds queued for an audition in late November. We were put through our paces, dancing, singing and sight-reading scripts. If you were lucky, you got through the next phase.

It was the very last show at the old Towngate theatre. We knew we had to give the theatre a good farewell. And this is exactly what the director, Alan Field, managed to do.

Echo: Great show - Sonny Tofts and Lee BrownGreat show - Sonny Tofts and Lee Brown (Image: Basildon Towngate)

We considered the production to be a professional engagement. Basildon had given a lot of money to stage this extravagant event.

Alan Field was a professional director. He had directed some musicals in London and he also directed Guys and Dolls at the Towngate the previous year.

He knew Basildon had a hotbed of talent. Some of these performers have since gone on to have professional careers themselves. Terry Edwards (Bird) is a professional actor and producer. I have had an ongoing 30-year career as both professional actor and teacher of drama, featuring in a number of television dramas.

Echo: Actor - Lee BrownActor - Lee Brown (Image: Maxine Evans photography)

Jamie Golding has written a number of screenplays. Jason Benterman is an award-winning theatre company manager. Jamie Golding is currently in the Lyceum’s Lion King, and even at the time of Bugsy he was headhunted for Gavroche for Les Mis in the West End.

One special twist I distinctly remember was how Alan Field changed the ending of Bugsy Malone.

He got permission from its creator Alan Field to do so. He invented a character that he called Lucky. Lucky’s character brought everyone together at the end to forgive and make peace.

Echo: Show time - the cast on stageShow time - the cast on stage (Image: Lee Brown)

It meant we avoided the splurge-fest famously seen in the film at the end. Alan Field quickly realised that trying to do two to three shows a day, and clear up after each riotous ending would be a nightmare.

Echo: Action - Lee on stage in 1987Action - Lee on stage in 1987 (Image: Lee Brown)

It is created lifelong friends and lifelong cherished memories."