Bugsy Malone (UK Tour) – Review

Bugsy Malone; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

24th January 2023

★★★★

Bugsy Malone is currently on its first ever UK Tour. Based on the hit 1976 movie by Alan Parker and with eight BAFTA® nominations and three Golden Globe® nominations, this musical is a family favourite. With recognisable songs from Oscar®-winner Paul Williams including ‘My Name is Tallulah’, ‘You Give A Little Love’ and ‘Fat Sam’s Grand Slam’, Bugsy Malone is a fun, light-hearted musical. The plot centres on Fat Sam and Dandy Dan, a pair of rival gangsters. With the custard pies flying and the new ‘splurge’ guns shooting it seems that Fat Sam’s gang is scuppered. But can Bugsy Malone’s help can the pair settle their differences?

The movie famously has children taking centre stage, as the mobsters themselves. This blend of child and adult actors continues in this UK Tour making it a great show to bring budding actors or families to. The show is light-hearted with enough comic moments to make the audience laugh regularly. The cast play on the comic moments brilliantly and their timing is excellent. The over the top acting and facial expressions work perfectly with the slap-stick humour style of the show. During this production the children cast were led by Amar Blackman, Charlie Burns, Fayth Ifil and Avive Savannah Williams, all of whom were excellent in role. Other than their obvious height difference it was hard to tell them apart from the adults in the show as they were so talented. Marcus Billany is excellent as Knuckles, Fat Sam’s hapless side kick.

The set, by Jon Bausor, is well used and fits the criteria to set the scene for the New York prohibition era. Set pieces are bought on smoothly and are effective. The highlight of the show for many is the car chase scene which, with the use of strobe lighting, is executed really well. Philip Gladwell’s lighting works brilliantly and helps highlight the set’s features.

Alan Parker’s decision to include children in the show was inspired by his own four children and the stories they would share whilst on long car journeys. It is a show for kids, with kids placed at the centre of the action. It is a novel approach and certainly makes it stand out from other family musicals. Bugsy Malone is often put on by schools, youth theatre projects and amateur dramatic societies so it attracts a wide range of audience members, with many reliving their own days treading the boards. Bugsy Malone is a well-loved musical; funny, entertaining and with a unique twist. It’s a great show to introduce children to the theatre with so grab a ticket before the tour ends next month.

Bugsy Malone is playing at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until the 28th January. For tickets and information click here. It then continues the tour until the end of February 2023, click here for information.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

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