Monday, November 28

Bugsy Malone – Opera House, Manchester

Grab your sequins, pin-striped suits and splurge guns because Bugsy Malone is in town! This sparkling revival is packed with glamour, amazing choreography and a cast of future musical theatre stars.

If you weren’t already aware, the show is performed by a complete cast of young people, however this is no school nativity, far from it in fact.

The plot, light though it may be, follows the much-loved Bugsy Malone (Gabriel Payne) a penniless past boxer who just wants to take his new love, Blousey (Delilah Bennet-Cardy) to the shining lights of Hollywood to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a star. Bugsy gets mixed up in the New York gangster war of Fat Sam (Albie Snelson) and Dandy Dan (Desmond Cole). Custard pies are flung as rivalries flourish, but things get serious as the gangs begin to wield the newfound splurge guns!

The older cast members (still only teenagers/young adults) form the chorus, leading the dazzling dance number, and what a spectacle they are; bursting with energy, pizazz and topped off with a clever gag or two. The cast thrive with Drew McOnie’s brilliant choreography, precisely executed with style and flair.

Credit – Johan Persson

The show never misses an opportunity for humour, an element that is both the shows charm and also its weakness. The intense need for humour sometimes feels at a detriment to the show’s storyline, leaving much to be desired for character development or journey. Some scenes present a clear dip in energy, and Sean Holmes’ direction towards the stereotypical New York gangster characters somewhat misses the mark, as the young actor’s tough guy attitudes and sullen movements come across mono-tonal. Despite this, there is nothing more heart-warming and pleasant than watching a talented cast of children flourishing, doing something that they so obviously love.

There is no doubt that this production’s highlights are its choral numbers. Filling the stage with shimmer and momentum, the choreography, set and costumes (Jon Bausor), provide the showbiz glamour audiences crave. In particular some of the standout moments come from the most well-known songs, including ‘Bad Guys’ and ‘So You Wanna Be A Boxer’.

The vocals provided by young Delilah as Blousey in ‘Ordinary Fool’ were note perfect and emotionally charged; definitely a young triple-treat to keep an eye on.

Bugsy Malone is pure silly delight; a gangster glitter bomb to bring joy to your evening. It’s guaranteed to make even the grumpiest gangster’s smile. Despite some small flaws, its timeless charm and wit make for pure escapism, and isn’t that what theatre is all about?

Head on over to Fat Sam’s speakeasy this week at The Opera House, Manchester, only until Saturday 12th November –

Reviewer: Alison Baines

Reviewed: 8th November 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★