Thursday, 30 April 2015

Review: Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith

Asanda Jezile as Tallulah

Bugsy Malone 
Lyric Hammersmith
Reviewed on Wednesday 29th April 2015

Marking its first professional UK staging in ten years, Sean Holmes' revival of Bugsy Malone reopens the Lyric Hammersmith following multi-million pound re-development work. Adapted from Alan Parker’s iconic 1976 gangster film, the piece takes place in Prohibition era New York.

We see Fat Sam going head to head with Dandy Dan whilst former boxer Bugsy Malone finds himself deeply in love with aspiring singer Blousey Brown... but he must resist temptations from Tallulah, and then of course nobody wants to be splurged! All the leading roles are played by children, but the show can be enjoyed by all ages. 

Emily Beacock as Babyface
Many grew up with the film on repeat and almost everyone has either been in or sat through a school production of Bugsy Malone; however, I had forgotten just how catchy the songs are. Jon Bausor’s design is stylistically slick and the piece is performed with a great deal of charm.

The young actors who star in the leading roles give remarkable performances. For me the show was stolen by Emily Beacock who is one of three girls to play Lena/Baby Face. Beacock's rendition of 'Lena's Number' was absolutely hysterical; she pitched it perfectly, evoking a huge audience reaction. The other stand out performance came from Asanda Jezile who showcased impressive bluesy vocals during her rendition of 'My Name Is Tallulah' and owned the stage throughout. 

The highlight of the evening is the epic finale which sees the cast let rip with hip hop inspired remixed orchestrations. Drew McOnie's choreography raised the roof and the cast seemed to be having the time of their lives. This was when I realised what the production had been missing; until the finale it doesn't do anything new and, whilst the cast take to the stage confidently throughout, the show lacks flair. Everyone is doing what they're supposed to be doing, but musical numbers could be bigger – it wasn’t until the finale that Bugsy Malone made a real statement. 

Perhaps orchestrations should have been tweaked a little more to allow McOnie's choreography to be taken up a gear. This production of Bugsy Malone is perfectly enjoyable. Although more could have been done to give it the 'wow-factor' throughout, the talent of the cast is strong and the show provides some good fun light-hearted entertainment.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Bugsy Malone runs at the Lyric Hammersmith until Saturday 1st August 2015. Please visit for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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