Bugsy Malone

Aug 13 2016 | By More

★★★☆☆  Enjoyable

The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87) 5-14 Aug 2016
Review by Hugh Simpson

Well drilled and cleverly staged, Captivate Theatre’s Bugsy Malone in the Famous Spiegeltent is a fast-moving and fun affair.

The stage adaptation of Alan Parker’s movie, with music by Paul Williams, has become a popular choice for companies with younger performers. Its combination of gangster movie stereotypes (watered down with child-friendly developments like the ‘splurge gun’) with broad comedy gives it a huge appeal.

Bugsy Malone. Photo: Captivate Drama

Bugsy Malone. Photo: Captivate Drama

The story of the small-time boxing coach Bugsy, and how his involvement in the gangland struggles between nightclub owner Fat Sam and his rival Dandy Dan, features a large variety of named roles. In fact, the most notable thing about the story is that if you took the title character out it would still be more or less the same, with Bugsy’s love story really just a subplot.

The best known songs are the chorus numbers such as Fat Sam’s Grand Slam or So You Wanna Be a Boxer? and these are the highlights of this production. Director Sally Lyall makes inventive use of the Spiegeltent’s layout, meaning that the huge chorus are not just crammed on the stage all the time; when they are, as in the boxing number, there seems very little room to move. The way the nightclub ambience is created as the audience come in is cleverly done with the show seeming to begin organically and without fuss.

Vocally, the ensemble numbers are of a very high standard – tuneful and outstandingly well rehearsed. Musical director Liam Forrester, who leads the small but energetic band, deserves great credit for the togetherness of the chorus.

Many of the roles are shared between different performers, and the standard is very high. Kieran Brown’s Bugsy is an affable stage presence, combining the character’s cynicism with a genuine likeability.

gleefully silly

Molly Constanti, as his love interest, would-be singer Blousey, is impressive both when singing and acting. Eilidh Murray (nightclub chanteuse Tallulah) and Jessica Nola (Fizzy, another aspiring singer) also perform their solo vocal numbers with sophistication and tunefulness. Georgia-Lee Roberts (Dandy Dan) leads an all-female gang with a sparklingly evil relish.

If a criticism could be levelled, it is that much of it is a little too polished and grown-up, when this is the one musical that benefits from anarchic childishness. It is at its best when the splurge guns (here dispensing silly string) and water pistols are in full effect.

The performer who adds most in this regard is Alex Gavin, whose Fat Sam is gleefully silly and tremendous fun. He is well backed up by Callum Grant’s Knuckles, with Fraser Kelsey and Lewis Dalgleish also showing good timing in their parts.

Scott Edwards and Calum Waters take on the roles of the police with energy and gusto, overcoming some suspiciously dated lines with well judged physical comedy, while one of the highlights of the show comes when Honor Laird seizes her moment in the spotlight as Baby Face.

While it could benefit from a little loosening up and a bit more genuine silliness, this works well as a showcase for its performers and is highly enjoyable in its own right.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87), St Andrew Square, EH2 1AF
Friday 5 – Sunday 14 August 2016
Daily at 12 noon
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bugsy-malone
Company website: http://www.captivatetheatre.com
Facebook: captivatetheatre
Twitter: @Captivate_LTD


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