Bugsy Malone is the definition of feel good, and this production rivals anything that can be found on London’s West End.

© Johan Persson

This stage production is of course based on Alan Parker’s 1976 classic. The film fused two genres together with gangstas performing musical numbers, in a movie entirely acted by children, it’s unique to say the least. The first stage production opened on the West End in 1983, starring Catherine Zeta Jones. This current production is a revival of the Lyric Hammersmith’s critically acclaimed, sell-out revival staged in 2015. The show is now on a tour of the UK.

The seven principle characters within the show; Bugsy, Blousey, Fat Sam, Tallulah, Fizzy, Lena/Babyface and Dandy Dan are all played by actors aged between 9 and 15. Each principle role has three actors which share the role and alternate shows. The ensemble however, are all adult performers, most of which are recent graduates from various renowned arts schools.

Upon first glance, the staging appears simple. There is a metal staircase which leads up to the stage door of what we can assume is Fat Sam’s Grand Slam. However the staging has much more to it. There are many different sets and the transitions are smooth between scene changes. The audience are transported inside of Fat Sam’s, to the streets of New York, inside a cafe and more.

One of the first numbers ‘Fat Sam’s Grand Slam’ sets the tone for the night. The showgirls all sing, whilst performing a high-energy dance number. They all remain in time throughout, and who knows when they find time to breathe, but the singing did not sound breathy at any point, it was in fact, pitch perfect. Most shows shy away from having performers sing and dance simultaneously, but this risk pays off and it’s an incredibly impressive number to witness.

The vocals across the board are outstanding, a highlight for me was Blousey, played by Mia Lakha on Press Night, singing ‘I’m Feeling Fine’, which has received a slight remix. In the film the song is more of a ballad, in this production it receives a new orchestral arrangement which is beautiful. Lakha’s voice stands up against the power of the orchestra and her vocals are exceptional. On the flip side of this, the only musical performance which missed the mark slightly was ‘Tomorrow’, sung by Fizzy, who was played by Aidan Oti on this evening. Oti’s voice wasn’t quite as strong as his cast mates, although it is quite a difficult song to sing regardless, and he’s proves a skilled dancer in other numbers.

Drew McOnie’s choreography is the absolute star of this production. There are so many incredible dance numbers to focus upon, but my favorite is ‘Bad Guys’. The ensemble prove excellent dancers, and make McOnie’s choreo shine through. They don’t miss a beat and are in-sync throughout. There’s even a surprise break-down at the end of the show, incorporating all the dance numbers from the show, which I enjoyed thoroughly.

Not only does Bugsy Malone deliver on the musical theatre aspects of the production, it also provides some comic relief. Albie Snelson played Fat Sam at this performance, and has the audience in stitches throughout. Snelson at one point interacted with a band member in the pit and also had to perform his own scene change, removing all of the items onstage himself. Fat Sam and Knuckles prove a great comedy duo and their comedic timing is perfect. Dandy Dan, played by Desmond Cole also provides laughs – the hilarity of the young actor being dressed in clothes which are far too big for him and layered never ceases, no matter how many times he comes on stage. Bugsy, played by Gabriel Payne on this occasion, is cheeky and tiny – which makes the fighting scenes that much more funny, he’s quite literally thrown through the air by the older ensemble members.

© Johan Persson

I can’t talk about this show and not talk about the slapstick comedy incorporated within it. There are banana skins, fights expertly choreographed by Kate Waters, and of course splurge guns. But the guns aren’t filled with cream, like they are in the film – they are instead filled with what looks like strawberry angel delight. The slapstick aspects mean this production is fit for all ages, anyone will enjoy it and it’s sure to have everyone laughing. In this show, if you’re not laughing, you’re applauding the incredible performances you’ve just witnessed.

This production of Bugsy Malone is the ultimate showcase of fresh young talent. Many members of the cast are just starting out in their careers and I have no doubt that many of them will go on to do amazing things in the future. The standard of talent within this production is outstanding and will leave you awestruck.

Bugsy Malone is a timeless classic, and this production will leave you smiling, and probably singing ‘You Give A Little Love’ as you journey home. It’s hands down one of the best shows I’ve seen this year, and you cannot miss it! It’s on in Bath until the 23rd of July and then heading to other cities in the UK, hopefully you can catch it somewhere near you – you’d be an ‘Ordinary Fool’ to miss it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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