Bugsy Malone - Queens Theatre 1998
This spoof gangster story is set in 1920s USA during Prohibition. Children are playing the parts of adults! 'Fat Sam' who runs a popular hideaway booze house, is threatened to be run out of business by arch enemy 'Dandy Dan'. Will 'Fat Sam' succeed in fighting him off, or will he lose his empire? 'Bugsy Malone', the guy all the girls love, has fallen for a showgirl 'Blousey Brown'. Can he win her love? At the same time 'Fat Sam's' girlfriend 'Tallulah' is interested in 'Bugsy'! Will she spoil his chances with 'Blousey'?
This show is fun from start to finish with the characters getting killed by a 'splurge gun', which is like a custard pie being squirted at them.
Two separate casts perform the show and alternate. This review relates to the cast I saw at the Matinee performance on Tuesday 6th Jan. This cast is named 'Stripes' in the theatre program. (The other cast is called Stars)
There are lots of great songs that are catchy and lyrical, and are performed extraordinarily well by such a young cast. In fact, I think I witnessed some stars of the future. Sheridan Smith is sensational as the sultry 'Tallulah'. She captures the tone of the part beautifully and has a great professional voice. I'm sure we will see more of her. I was also impressed by the voice of Elizabeth Avis as 'Blousey Brown'. She has a powerful and unique sounding voice that is sure to earn her a lot of money! Of the men (or should I say boys!), I was a little disappointed with Michael Sturges as 'Bugsy Malone'. He seemed to lack conviction at this performance (I'm sure he was just having an off day). However, he does have a good singing voice. Sean Parkins as 'Fizzy' has a strong voice. He was also very popular with the audience! This was probably because 'Fat Sam' would not let him have his opportunity to audition in his club, so the audience felt sorry for him! Paul Lowe who plays 'Fat Sam' was made for the part. He gave a very convincing and funny performance. He is a natural, who I expect will go a long way in this profession. Also convincing is Stuart Piper as 'Dandy Dan', a suave and sophisticated gangster. His performance was very professional.
I could not find one bad review from the popular press! DOMINIC CAVENDISH of TIME OUT calls the show a "Cutesome little winner." BILL HAGERTY of THE NEWS OF THE WORLD says the show is "So full of life it is irresistible." LIZA MARLAND of THE STAGE said "What fun it is reliving the innocent joy of the musical all over again." ROBERT HEWISON of THE SUNDAY TIMES said that the cast he saw " Could certainly do their stuff ". CHARLES SPENCER of THE DAILY TELEGRAGH called the show "Charming" and goes on to say Parker's libretto is "Witty" and the songs by Paul William's are "TUNEFUL".
As expected, most of the audience is made up of children, but do not be put off by this if you don't like kids! Bugsy Malone is a show for all the family and is rich in energy and fun. However, as it has a big cast of youngsters there is some holes, but this does not spoil your enjoyment. It is 2 hours of pure escapisms for grown-ups and 2 hours of fantasy for children.