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Bugsy Malone

First Published 29 April 2015, Last Updated 5 May 2015

What’s it all about?

Really? Bugsy Malone? Stop reading this and download the classic movie musical. Now. Or better still, go straight to the Lyric Hammersmith and wait for a performance to begin.

Still reading? Okay. We’re in prohibition era gangster territory. Fat Sam’s the big man, Dandy Dan’s the pretender making his move. Rather than tommy guns, these hoodlums use custard pies and cream-firing splurge guns to see off their adversaries. Why? Because they’re all played by unbelievably talented kids.

Who’s in it?

The stars of tomorrow. That said, the cast – which features three performers in each major role to cover a rolling performance schedule – already boasts an Olivier nominee (Zoe Brough) and winner (Eleanor Worthington-Cox).

On press night Max Gill had the audience in the palm of his hand as the speakeasy-owning Fat Sam and Daniel Purves was a miniature Bugsy in charming perpetual motion. Yet while broad caricatures and stage-filling characters orbited her, Thea Lamb, in her professional stage debut, gave an incredibly mature, enchantingly still, heart-squeezing performance as the girl with a dream, Blousey Brown.

What should I look out for?

Drew McOnie’s glorious choreography. It’s easy to see why this young man is a growing power within the theatre world. From the wit of Bad Guys to the showgirl glamour of My Name Is Tallulah and the synchronisation, aggression and muscularity of So You Wanna Be A Boxer?, his pieces are captivating.

The innocent sweetness of the relationship between Bugsy and Blousey that will induce you to ‘Ah’ whether you like it or not.

Four words: “Give this to Babyface”.

In a nutshell?

A splurgeriffic revival of a classic musical that deserves to get a lot of love come back to it.

Who was in the first night crowd?

Lyric Hammersmith alumnus Simon Stephens was sat just in front of us and, I’m sure he won’t mind us saying, was loving the show. Ghost Stories co-writer Andy Nyman was also in the crowd, as was Romola Garai who returns to the stage in the Young Vic’s Measure For Measure later this year.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@BerringtonEmily Genuinely NEVER had a more enjoyable time at the theatre than #BugsyMalone at the @LyricHammer tonight. #YouMightAsWellQuitIfYouHaventGotIt

@JamesBourne If you don’t go and see @Bugsy_MaloneUK you’re missing out. Most fun I’ve had in the theatre for a long time. #musicalsareepic

Will I like it?

Yes, you will. Check your cynicism at the door and lap up the fun at Fat Sam’s Grand Slam. In fact, don’t check your cynicism, let a pint-sized hoodlum chase it out of the auditorium with a loaded splurge gun. 


Bugsy Malone plays at the Lyric Hammersmith until 1 August. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.


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