Wednesday 5 October 2022

Bugsy Malone

 Curve, Leicester

4th October, 2022

You’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do

Sean Holmes’ 2015 Lyric Hammersmith production of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone, based on his 1976 film, has been triumphantly remounted for a UK tour. Set during the Prohibition era, two rival gangsters, Fat Sam and Dandy Dan, along with their cronies wreak havoc across the speakeasies and dives of underworld New York. As in the film, the lead characters are all impressively played by child actors to help create a pastiche of black and white mobster movies. Machine guns and knives are swapped out for splurge guns and custard pies; get away vehicles are now pedal cars; and caricatures of gangsters become lovable rogues.

Much as the film was born out of Parker’s love of gangster movies, the same sense of boundless joy comes over the footlights in Holmes’ staging. Paul Williams’ memorable songs are all performed with glee and are skilfully brought to life by the ensemble in Drew McOnie’s choreography. McOnie demonstrates why he’s one of the leading choreographers of his generation, injecting pizzazz into the big numbers particularly “We Could Have Been Anything” and “So You Wanna Be A Boxer”. Jon Bausor’s designs are in keeping with the film and further romanticise the setting as well as reimagining them for a theatrical context. The audience enters to a backstage area of a theatre, a black wall and fire escape dominating the stage. Onto this comes the low tables and brightly lit cocktail bars of Fat Sam’s speakeasy, the world of showgirls, and a race to get the best splurge guns.

The ensemble cast are all having a blast with their finest Noo Yoiker accents. At this performance, Charlie Burns has the audience where he wants them as Fat Sam, lording over his own scene changes and complaining at his sidekick Knuckles for cracking his knuckles. Rayhaan Kufuor-Gray is his equal as rival mob boss Dandy Dan. And Ellis Sutherland as caretaker Fizzy gets one of the biggest cheers of the night for his rendition of “Tomorrow” as he, with a mop in his hand, longs for the life he could have had as a dancer.

The plot for Bugsy isn’t its strongest and this can sometimes make the musical come across as quite sketchy but this is not to detract from the fun that’s had on stage and in the audience. And whilst the final scene understandably doesn’t get as messy as the same sequence in the film, there are plenty of moments of pure elation here.

Bugsy Malone plays at Leicester’s Curve until 9th October and is then touring until February 2023, including a London run at Alexandra Palace Theatre from 3rd December until 15th January. For more information please visit Bugsy Malone: The Musical – The classic musical live on stage! (

The ensemble of Bugsy Malone. Credit: Johan Persson

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