Bugsy Malone
  • By Pete Shaw
  • |
  • 10th Aug 2016
  • |
  • ★★★★

There are plenty of musicals that have versions suitable for younger companies, but Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone is possibly unique in that it’s a piece that only really works if performed by child actors.

A genuinely feel-good musical with shedloads of talent from a young cast.

Set in 1920s Chicago, Bugsy Malone is loosely based around the lives of the gangsters of the time, but in this kid-friendly show, guns fire silly string and people are bumped off with cream pies. Prohibition means alcohol is controlled by the mobsters, including one Fat Sam (Aidan Cross) who runs the speakeasy in which most of the action takes place. The titular Bugsy (Kieran Brown) is a down-on-his-luck boxing promoter who falls for recently arrived Blousey (Molly Constanti) who’s looking for work at the speakeasy as a singer. Jobs are scarce though, as stage cleaner Fizzy (Catherine Bain) laments in one of the stand out numbers, Tomorrow (Never Comes). Meanwhile Dandy Dan (Georgia-Lee Roberts) is a rival mob boss who has ambitions to take over Fat Sam’s patch.

Captivate Theatre’s huge cast (I got to about 40 in number before I lost count) bring these gangsters to life, so the stage can get a little crowded at times. The long entrances and exits back and forth through the entire Spiegeltent can slow the pace down and the marching of performers feet echoing on the wooden floors gets old fast. There’s also an unnecessary interval that comes after quite a flat scene, dissipating some of the magic they had been building. But those quibbles aside, the positives in this show really make it a joyous experience. The quality of the singing is pretty remarkable for a young cast, paired with confident direction that avoids dealing with such a large number turning to the chaotic.

Familiar songs come at a pace in this show, including Fat Sam’s Grand Slam; Bad Guys; My Name Is Tallulah and So You Wanna Be a Boxer? – it’s quite the nostalgia-fest for us of a certain age who remember the film version the first time around. Even Broadway Baby gets a reprise. Thank guys.

So it could do with a little tightening up, but by the final number most of the front few rows of the audience are covered in Silly String, the pianist has taken a cream pie and everyone in the room is singing along to Good Guys. A genuinely feel-good musical with shedloads of talent from a young cast.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Captivate Theatre's summer school perform the classic musical Bugsy Malone in the elegant surroundings of The Spiegeltent – the perfect setting for Fat Sam’s Speakeasy! Join Bugsy, Fat Sam, Tallulah, Blousey and Dandy Dan for a fun time full of laughs, songs and lots of splurge! A great show for all the family, and is sure to inspire younger members of the audience to tread the boards! 'Well-crafted… delivered with energy and humour by a strong cast – thoroughly entertaining.' (AllEdinburghTheatre.com, on Our House, 2015). www.captivatetheatre.com

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