Anybody who is anybody could soon walk through that door – and so they should if it’s to come and see Bugsy Malone in the 2022 tour.
The childhood nostalgia is turned up to 11 with this return to Alan Parker’s smash hit comedy musical. Borne from a desire to write something that would entertain his 4 kids, Parker created a timeless piece of comedy story telling that spawned countless careers, multiple awards and a never-ending thread of earworms.
On paper, who would have thought that 1930’s prohibition gangsters could possibly become the perfect vehicle for child actors, but as we all now know, his genius, melded with the stellar song writing of Paul Williams became the brilliance that we all love.
Bugsy Malone, set in the stereotypical gangster world of New York speak-easys, molls, dolls, sharp suits and spats, is still a love story – love of a gal and her man, love of a hood and his fancy life, love of the dream of wanting to do better.
Bugsy, played in our performance by Gabriel Payne (Matilda, Endeavour, Mary Poppins) is the wannabee wide boy, head full of dreams but still streetwise, footloose and fancy free. Trying to tie him down is nightclub singer Blousey (Mia Lakha – Annie, Bonnie & Clyde, Chuggington) who is desperate to become the star at Fat Sams Grand Slam nightclub/speakeasy.
Sam (Albie Snelson) is the widest of wide boys, the malevolent benefactor and the leader of, funnily enough Fat Sam’s Gang. Albie manages to bring a HUGE presence onto the stage, making his Sam totally believable that he would do anything to get one up on the competition, especially that of arch enemy Dandy Dan (Desmond Cole – Carousel, Ted Lasso).
Adding to the club regulars is Jasmine Sakyiama (School of Rock, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Louis Wain) who plays Tallulah (famously portrayed in the film by a young Jodie Foster), the ‘old before her time’ singer.
Sam’s speakeasy is a riot of colour, the complete contrast to the streets of New York and the downtrodden lives of the poor and destitute. The drinks bar glows so bright it is almost painful and perfectly illuminate the sequined dancers costumes. Cleverly, there is very little stage scenery, instead the changes swoop down from above as the dour temperance bar is transformed into Sam’s glitz and glamour club - giant lighting strips, elegant oversized costumes and huge props.
Of course, the shows greatest appeal is the young cast but make no mistake, these are all very accomplished in their craft. In particular, the fight scene, with Mohamed Bangura as Leroy leading Bugsy’s defence is a brilliant choreographed sequence which would credit any blockbuster action movie.
The rest of the ensemble, especially Cherry Mitra as Babyface and Aidan Oti as Fizzy show just what fantastic strength in depth there is in this production – it matters not who is playing the leads, they are all phenomenal actors and certainly worth putting on the watch list for future stardom.
Thankfully the show remains totally true to the original movie soundtrack; all the favourites are here, guaranteed to leave you humming the tune and trying to remember the words all the way home. I bet also that there is a sudden upturn n people looking for the original movie to watch this weekend.
Perfect for the whole family, Bugsy Malone is on at Theatre Royal Newcastle until Sunday 21st August.