REVIEW: BUGSY MALONE (Alexandra Palace)

Since its debut as a film in 1976, gangster musical comedy Bugsy Malone has fast become a family favourite, capturing audiences imaginations around the world. Written by Alan Parker, with music and lyrics by Paul Williams, London audiences can once again join Fat Sam, Dandy Dan, Tallulah, Blousey and Busgy on their adventures this festive season as the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s Olivier award-nominated production plays Alexandra Palace for a strictly limited run.

Welcome to New York 1929! A city full of mobsters, showgirls and dreamers. Rival gangster bosses Fat Sam and Dandy Dan are at loggerheads. The custard pies are flying and the new-fangled “splurge” gun is causing mayhem. Enter Bugsy Malone, a penniless one-time boxer and all-round nice guy. All he wants is to spend time with his new love, Blousey, but can he resist seductive songstress Tallulah and stay out of trouble long enough to help Fat Sam defend his business? Packed with instantly recognisable songs including My Name is Tallulah, You Give A Little Love and Fat Sam’s Grand Slam, this fun-filled and riotous musical comedy offers the perfect treat for all the family.

Directed by Olivier Award-winning Sean Holmes and choreographed by Olivier Award winning Drew McOnie, this production of Bugsy Malone The Musical stars a talented cast of young performers aged between 9 and 16 in the leading roles, supported by an ensemble of adult performers. The combined company of thirty-nine actors (including three teams of seven kids) are joined by a live band of seven musicians. The adult cast is all exceptionally talented, playing multiple singing and dancing roles supporting the young actors and looking like they’re having a glorious time throughout. The young cast on press night was made up of Albie Snelson as Fat Sam, Jasmine Sakyiama as Tallulah, Gabriel Payne as Bugsy, Mia Lakha as Blousey, Aidan Oti as Fizzy, Cherry Mitra as Lena/Babyface and Desmond Cole as Dandy Dan.

Aidan Oti as wannabe performer Fizzy and Cherry Mitra as Lena/Babyface melt your heart with their characters, so fun and earnest. Desmond Cole as Dandy Dan stepped into the role perfectly and played a wonderfully corrupt gangster having as so much fun throughout. Mia Lakha as Blousey was wonderfully cast, commanding the stage with a sweet presence that fit her ingenue character perfectly. Gabriel Payne as Bugsy was incredible. Walking with swagger and confidence, you couldn’t help but smile whenever he took the stage performing the perfect likeable wise guy. Jasmine Sakyiama as Tallulah was sensational, part narrator part scene-stealing showgirl her My Name Is Tallulah at the top of Act Two was a showstopper as her powerful voice filled Alexandra Palace beautifully, reminding the audience of a young Ariana DeBose. Albie Snelson as Fat Sam was absolutely hilarious. Holding the audience in the palm of his hand, his comedic performance was a highlight of the evening and I can’t wait to see where this young performer goes.

Sean Holmes’s direction of this Bugsy Malone is absolute perfection. From working with the young actors sight lines, to giving them the confidence needed to perform their characters with finesse, through to the delivery of lines and jokes, Holmes hit the nail on the head every time. Combined with multi-award-winning international stage designer Jon Bausor’s set, this Bugsy is the ultimate production. So slick and professional, with a run time of just under two hours (including interval) this may be my favourite production of the festive season so far.

Running just until January 15th before continuing on its UK Tour, make sure you Give a Little Love and see Bugsy Malone at Alexandra Palace this Christmas.

★★★★★

Reviewed by Stuart James