REVIEW: BUGSY MALONE (Lyric Hammersmith)

A scene from Bugsy Malone by Alan Parker and words and music by Paul Williams @ Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Directed by Sean Holmes. (Opening-11-06-16) ©Tristram Kenton 06/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.comAfter closing at the Lyric in August 2015, Alan Parker’s classic Bugsy Malone returns with a huge bang to London! The colourful show sets new heights and standards for the future West End stars in this dazzling production.

The story is brought to life from the 1976 film that starred Jodie Foster and Bonnie Langford. Set in 1920’s New York, two rivalry gangs fight to become ‘top dog’ among the streets. Mobster Fat Sam enlists the help of Bugsy Malone to help take down Dandy Dan by creating a bigger gang and stealing his guns. The twist? Well, they’re ‘splurge guns’ filled with custard and cream… and the mobsters are kids.

The cast rotate as the lead roles each night but are backed up by young adults in the ensemble, although most are recent drama school graduates- they do not outshine the raw talent from the youngsters. At the performance reviewed; Rhianna Dorris and Tabitha Knowles played Tallulah and Blousie, Max Gill and Alesandro Bonelli as Fat Sam and Dandy Dan, Jaydah Bell-Ricketts and Elliot Aubrey as Lena and Fizzy, and finally Adryan Dorset-Pitt as title role Bugsy Malone. The cast are faultless, better than some of the adults that I’ve seen in West End productions. A particular standout was Elliot Aubrey as Fizzy, his beautiful voice left the audience in adoration at a stunning rendition of “Tomorrow”. These kids are so strong and energized, they all have fantastic careers ahead of them in the industry.

Artistic Director Sean Holmes worked with designers Jon Bausor and James Farncombe to construct a film noir type set. A black brick wall, metal stairs, and moody lighting set the scene for the scary dark alleys of the city- but the stage is brightened up in Fat Sam’s Speak Easy and the sparkly costumes on the dancers.

The choreography by Drew McOnie was beyond slick. Every routine is unique to the song and nothing is ever samey. Full of lifts, leaps, flips, the dance packs a full punch and is given full commitment by the cast.

There were so many brilliant moments in Bugsy Malone, it’s hard to think of a favourite. One of the cleverest parts was the car chase scene. Bugsy and Fat Sam race to get away from Dandy Dan’s gang as they clamber all over the vehicle; using strobe lighting the car really does look like it’s speeding down a road- constantly swerving to try and get the gang to fly off as they struggle and tackle to get inside. It’s so intense but at the same time very comedic and well done.

The musical celebrates the individuality, the bravery, and the talent of children. The film although loved can seem a little dated, and this production contemporises it for audiences of today to enjoy it as a brand new show. Bugsy Malone is full of surprises and without giving too much away I can say the finale was truly magical to watch and I was gutted I couldn’t sit through and watch the whole show again straight after. Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone is a piece of theatre that’s truly special and frankly “anybody who is anybody” must go and see it!

Reviewed by Ellie Devonshire
Photo: Tristram Kentron

Bugsy Malone plays at the Lyric Hammersmith until 4 September 2016. Tickets