On Tuesday evening a packed Hull New Theatre sat facing quite a drab stage setting as they waited for “curtain up” for Bugsy Malone: The Musical.
Well, drab soon turned to fab as the fantastic setting throughout turned out to be one of the best I’ve seen in any show. The nightclub tables, complete with lit lamps, descending from above, tablecloths billowing out, was just one unforgettable scene. All credit must go to stage designer Jon Bausor, who was also responsible for the amazing costumes throughout.
The story, set in 1920s New York, centres around rival gangster bosses, club owner Fat Sam and the smartly dressed Dandy Dan, two small-time “hoods” for whom nothing seems to go right – often with hilarious consequences.
Exciting events, often to a backdrop of the rat-a-tat-tat of “splurge guns” and the squish of custard pies, kept us entertained for two hours. In the 1976 film of the same name, the “splurge” fired from the guns was doughnut cream; as far as I could see, no such stuff was propelled on the night, so when we heard rat-a-tat we had to imagine the splat. All good fun.
Fat Sam’s club (funnily enough called Fat Sam’s) employed dancers and singers as a foil for his illegal activities.
Newly arrived wannabe club singer, Blousey, catches the eye of club-goer Bugsy Malone (local lad Marcus Billany), a penniless one-time boxer who is soon promising to buy them both tickets to Hollywood.
Mugged of his ticket dosh, but saved from serious injury by Good Samaritan, Leroy, Bugsy convinces his saviour that he should take up boxing, with himself as his manager.
What ensues is a very, very clever scene featuring “boxers” in red and white satin, sparring in a makeshift ring of red tape.
The choreography here was simply amazing, as was the way the live musicians played their instruments with split-second timing that perfectly matched the on-stage action.
Despite his foray back into boxing and his attraction to Blousey, Bugsy is lured into making even more easy money, courtesy of Fat Sam’s unlawful activities, while at the same time trying to resist club singer Tallulah’s flattering advances towards him.
He manages to resist Tallulah, but not the lure of big bucks.
Meanwhile, Fat Sam’s remaining sidekick, Knuckles comes a cropper and I, for one, didn’t mind his demise as every time he cracked his knuckles the most horrific sound-effect filled the theatre.
In breathtakingly busy scenes – aided and abetted by excellent sound and lighting, plus a stage setting to die for – this super-talented cast delighted, enthralled, amused and wowed.
Well-sung songs such as My Name Is Tallulah and the catchy We Could Have Been Anything revealed the versatility of this energetic bunch, too many to mention by name.
Despite being deadly but comical enemies all night, all’s well that ends well with Dandy and Sam shaking hands, as the cast danced around them, exuding a joy that had us all on our feet, reluctant for the night to end,
Running until Saturday, October 29th, 2022; 7pm nightly with 2pm matinees on Wednesday, 26th and Saturday, 29th and a 3pm matinee on Friday, 28th. Tickets from £15. Call (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 25th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★