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Bugsy Malone (Photo: Jay Brooks)

Bugsy Malone (Photo: Jay Brooks)

Bugsy Malone at the Lyric Hammersmith

Published 25 June 2016

What’s it all about?

Fat Sam, speakeasy owner and part-time gangster, is in trouble. He’s being outwitted by his rival, Dandy-Dan, thanks to a new, state of the art weapon: the splurge gun. Sam calls upon his friend, Bugsy Malone, to help out, who is himself trying to win the trust of one of Sam’s show girls, Blousey. Throw in some clueless hoodlums, an army of sewer-dwellers, a tonne of boxers and unthinkable quantities of custard and you’ve got yourself a glorious caper of a show.

Who’s in it?

The Lyric Hammersmith prides itself on its youth engagement programme, and it is therefore fitting that the cast is entirely made up of under-25s, with the principals all under the age of 16. Some have already cut their teeth in West End musicals, but for many this constitutes their professional stage debut. The energy onstage is electric throughout, and the performers are full of sass and style, with irrefutable acting and musical talent. The singing is soulful, with notable modern touches, including riffing reminiscent of Beyoncé and John Legend from Tallulah and Fizzy. The actors’ youth alone makes for comedy gold, and Sean Holmes’ brilliant direction maximises all opportunities to get the crowd giggling.

What should I look out for?

Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie’s stunning choreography, which adds class and authenticity to the production. From head-wiggling and hand-waving showgirls to punch-throwing boxers, the movements are strong and stylised, and are exceptionally well executed by the ensemble, whose performances form the backbone of the production.
The most memorable onstage car chase in London, using strobe lights, perfectly timed choreography and a throbbing jungle beat to create a hilarious and highly effective scene, reminiscent of classic gangster films.

In a nutshell?

The revival of this joyous 2015 hit is perfectly timed and utterly welcome.

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Will I like it?

Yes. Yes you will. It is impossible not to get caught up in the sheer joy of this production; the audience were roaring within minutes of curtain up and the laughter simply never stopped. It presents a charming, idealised world, in which guns fire custard, all the victims of a shoot-out can stand up and be friends again and where insults such as “you dumb salami” are about as bad as it gets. The cast have charisma coming out of their ears, with such acute comic timing that a mere look or hand gesture is enough to have the audience clutching their sides.

With enough stardust to brighten the darkest of skies, this show is the perfect remedy for any grown-ups feeling blue, and promises captivating entertainment for little ones. So go and get swept up in the glitz, glamour and gunge. It is an absolute delight.

Bugsy Malone runs at the Lyric Hammersmith until 4 September. To book tickets, visit the official website. 

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