Swing back in time to the era of gangsters and molls, as Lyric Hammersmith is transformed into Fat Sam’s Grand Slam Speakeasy for the fantastic new adaptation of Bugsy Malone.
This is one of my best loved musicals and we’d watched the film with Ezra although he was too young to recall it. Abiye and I were probably more excited than the babes to see how they would pull it off on stage.
From the vibrant opening sequence, I was transported to another world — not just the world of splurge guns and cream pies in your face; but the world of my childhood when we’d watch this movie over and over.
And judging by the mood in the theatre, I wasn’t the only one on a nostalgic trip: many sat without kids, happily tapping their feet and nudging each other to the familiar tunes.
The actors we saw on the night were perfectly cast, especially Jenson Steele as the irrepressible Fat Sam, Sasha Gray as cheeky Bugsy (pictured in rehearsal), and Samantha Allison as Blousey, whose voice will blow you away. I did miss the bass tones of Fizzy in the movie singing ‘Tomorrow’ (the movie parts are all sung by adults). But the young actor playing Fizzy (Marley Lockhart) held his own and Asanda Jezile (pictured) brought a Beyonce sultriness to the classic ‘My Name is Talullah’.
Special mentions to Oliver Emery as small but spiky Dandy Dan and Leah Levman who doubled up as bratty Lena and the adorable urchin named Babyface.
The production is beautifully put together, with simple but effective set decor and props, and some hilariously ‘meta’ moments (e.g. when Fat Sam carries out his own scene change). I enjoyed all the dance numbers, particularly the boxing sequence that had my boys craning to catch every move.
Bugsy Malone was always a daring conceit — a vintage song and dance featuring kids playing grown-ups and shooting each other with guns that spray whipped cream. I love that Alan Parker created the film for his 4 kids, based on the tales he told them about hoodlums and showgirls in New York. The film went on to win 4 Oscars and remains a truly British classic that beats with an American heart.
While faithful to the film, Bugsy Malone at Lyric Hammersmith shines on its own merits. It’s a wonderful showcase for the newly redeveloped theatre and its dedication to young talent.
When the cast sang their finale, I must admit I had a tear in my eye as these words rang around the auditorium: ‘You give a little love and it all comes back to you/You know you’re gonna be remembered for the things that you say and do.’ A night to remember and a song to keep on singing.
Ezra (age 9)
‘It was pretty full on with splurge guns and stuff. The fighting bits were funny. I liked when the guy was saying he’s not gonna be a good boxer and then he just knocked the other guy out. Some of the music was funny and the dancing was cool. If you like to see people getting splurged with guns then you’ll like the show. I’d give it 5 stars!’
Would you like to get splurged?
‘I wouldn’t care because I don’t know how it kills you that makes no sense. I would just wipe it off myself and smack it in their face!’
Jed (age 6)
‘I liked everything apart from the shooting. It was too loud! I liked when the big guy (Hammed) was singing in the end on the piano. I liked the dancing and I also liked the punching. My best bit was the boxing.’
Would you like to watch the film now?
Bugsy Malone at Lyric Hammersmith, Lyric Square, King St W6 0QL (Hammersmith tube). For ages 6+. 2.30pm & 7.30pm, £15-£40 (until Aug 1)