TWENTY years after the Wyvern Theatre launched its first Summer Youth Project hundreds of youngsters will tomorrow grace the boards in Bugsy Malone.

To celebrate the special anniversary Bugsy is returning to the Wyvern for this year’s project, which each year provides 250 youngsters aged between nine and 21 with the opportunity to work together as a professional theatre group.

At the end of the two-week scheme the youngsters come together to perform the show.

Anna McNamara, née Margilewska, who played Blousey in Bugsy Malone in the first ever Summer Youth Project in 1994, met up with her 2014 counterpart, Emily Bedford.

Anna, who went on to found the Guildford Theatre School and Guildford Youth Theatre, reflected on how her involvement in the scheme between 1994 and 1998 helped to pave her future career.

She said: “I cannot recall how I ended up auditioning for the first Summer Youth Project at the Wyvern in 1994. I do recall the audition process very clearly though – over 100 of us in the auditorium of the Wyvern singing and dancing in ever reducing groups, until a small group were invited for recall.

“Working with the wonderful director Vernon Mound I was lucky enough to play leading roles in each youth project I participated in, starting with Blousey Brown in the first ever SYP, through My Fair Lady (Mrs Higgins) and 42nd Street (Anytime Annie), culminating with Nancy in Oliver! in 1998.

“In four short years, the youth projects had doubled in size and were infinitely more slick and accomplished than that first year’s production.

“I cannot quite believe that 20 years have passed since ‘our’ production of Bugsy Malone, but I am honoured to be one of the thousands of children and young people who have benefited from the youth projects in Swindon. Whether we played principals or ensemble, all participants thrilled in coming together to create a truly extraordinary production – making friends, growing in confidence and independence, gaining positive role models, acquiring significant professional theatrical knowledge and learning life lessons along the way.”

This year’s cohort have been feverishly preparing for opening night, seeking every nook and cranny in the theatre to rehearse their lines.

Richard Loftus, marketing manager at the Wyvern, said: “It’s just fantastic how the whole cast and crew have come together. The place is full of children using every possible space to rehearse, even in their spare time, and help each other.

“The camaraderie between them is just fantastic.”

You can still book tickets to see Bugsy Malone, which will be running at the Wyvern Theatre from tomorrow until Sunday. Tickets cost from £12 to £15. For more information or to book, call 01793 524481.