Originally conceived at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in 2015 – This is the first UK touring musical production based on Alan Parker’s 1976 much-loved movie – Bugsy Malone and it is an absolute delight! Directed by Sean Homes with choreography by Drew McOnie this production keeps its roots firmly true to the film yet adds a spicy and slick new presentation.
If you haven’t seen this movie, Bugsy Malone is a gangster spoof musical, set in the American prohibition era, where the cast are played by children and the guns are replaced by messy custard pies and splurge. It follows the story of two rival gangs, vying to be top dog, led by Fat Sam and Dandy Dan. Enter Bugsy Malone to save the day. The moral being – we are better together than divided.
The staging problem of this musical has always been its numerous and vast location changes, but with the clever set design of Jon Bausor and a few novel new ways of changing set using the performers, this was not an issue in this production. A great big pat on the back is due for this feat alone. The set is basically a fire escape stairway and doors, and then the magic happens – as impressive additions are flown or rotated in including a cinema, the expected pedalled car, a bar and tables, even large punch bags! This production flows and the adult ensemble detract with great effect from the tedium of the inevitable scene changes.
With a cast of child performers ranging from 9 to 15 years old in the lead roles who are joined by the young dynamic adult ensemble, this production leaves you marvelling at the talent on stage. The lead roles are rotated with 3 performers cast in each role. On the night I saw the show, Bugsy Malone was played by Gabriel Payne and this young man had the confidence and charisma of someone twice his age, his performance is easy and assured – perfect casting of a very talented young man. Albie Snelson is a very animated Fat Sam and plays the audience for every laugh possible. Mia Lakha in the Role of Blousey Brown and Jasmine Sakyiama as Tallulah have great voices at such a young age, and one wonders just how good they will be as they mature! I really enjoyed Aidan Oti as Fizzy, his rendition of the classic ‘Tomorrow’ really highlighted a frailty and desperation in the character, most commendable! Whilst these young children may not be quite as polished or assured as the adult performers and some of the early dialogue feels a little forced or stagnant, it is this element that gives the production its charm and appeal. That said, you never feel like you are watching a school production!
I have to say personally, it is the choreography that really raised this show up to a new level particularly in the second act. The young adult ensemble really do work hard in this show with multiple costumes and character changes all presented with boundless energy and finesse. Noteworthy – Firstly, ‘So you wanna be a Boxer’ at Slugger’s gym is very special, you must watch out for the way the ring is created and defeated opponents discarded – it’s mesmerising! Then comes ‘Down and Outs’ another spellbinding number, and then the Finale, which really raises the roof and highlights the dance talent of all the principal characters in a more ‘modern’ style. I really cannot choose my highlight between these three numbers, but I am aware they really impressed me!
Bugsy Malone is at the Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 1st October, do not miss this slick, splurge, slapstick of a family musical with some very talented young performers. Get yourself down to Fat Sam’s Grand Slam, the hottest joint in town and have a messy family night out. https://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/events/bugsy-malone
Reviewer: Tracey Bell
Reviewed: 27th September 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★