dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Show is brimming with personality and fun
The musical Bugsy Malone explodes onto the stage of Birmingham Rep, splurge guns blazing in a madcap adventure of mobster New York. Based on Alan Parker's hit 1976 movie, the show takes us into the heart of a gangland battle for power when Dandy Dan decides to move in on Fat Sam's territory. What ensues is a gloriously funny and crazed tale of hoodlums and gangsters' molls with some memorable songs and fabulous dancing.
Like Parker's film, what sets this show apart is that the lead roles are played by young people, a cast of three actors playing each part on rotation. And the team on press night were bursting with talent and personality. Albie Snelson is a slick Fat Sam who will fight to the death to hold onto his bar. Dapper in his pinstripe suit, he blends menace with mediocrity as he defends his tiny turf.
To achieve his aim, Fat Sam hires small-time boxing manager Bugsy Malone played with huge confidence by Gabriel Payne. Bugsy is the likeable hero who has brains, charm and his own code of morality – although it is a code which can be broken if enough dollars are offered. Malone falls for out-of-towner Blousey who is aiming for Hollywood and sees singing at Fat Sam's as her first chance of stardom. The real-life Blousey, Mia Lakha, is certainly well on her way, with the song Ordinary Fool giving her a chance to shine.
As her counterpoint, Jasmine Sakyiama's Talllulah is a street-wise moll who flirts with Bugsy, narrates to the audience and, in her signature song My Name is Tallulah, ensures we know she will always look after number one first.
Directed by Sean Holmes, this touring production is super slick with lots of clever ideas including a flash-gun-lit car chase, characters who stand up and speak after they've been killed and a crazy scene in which Mad Sam's demise is highlighted by the fact he has to change the set himself. This is all presented very tongue-in-cheek and the audience go with it, laughing at its wry humour and loving its inventiveness.
Drew McOnie's choreography is lively and fun, with stages filled with high-kicking flapper girls, dancing boxers fighting in the ring and even a bit of break dancing. The sets and costumes by Jon Bausor blend New York grit with glitz, taking us back in time to prohibition USA.
Produced by The Rep, Theatre Royal Bath and Kenny Wax, the show opened in Bath before coming to Birmingham and then embarks on a nationwide tour. Much of its success lies in the fact it can appeal to all ages with both children and adults alike enjoying the ride.