Brett Herriot Review

Bugsy Malone, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review:

*** 3Stars

“a charming affair,”

Sir Alan Parker’s greatest gift to a generation of children is the 1976 critically acclaimed musical romp “Bugsy Malone” with the entire cast of adult characters played by children, bullets are swapped for whip cream firing splurge guns and the fatal kills delivered by custard pies. Although no one truly dies in Parkers New York City of the 1920’s

It’s incredible that it performed so rarely in the professional theatre, the original stage production in 1983 at Her Majesty’s Theatre London, a revival in 1997 at the Queen Theatre London, then in 2015 at the Lyric Theatre. Now for the first time the show embarks on its first National Tour.

Currently enjoying a weeklong run at the Edinburgh Playhouse the 2022 delivers a mixed bag, mostly as it loses sight of its original source material. Director Sean Holmes does retain the 6 lead characters played by three sets of children, at press night they where, Bugsy, Amar Blackman, Blousey, Avive Williams, Fat Sam, Charlie Burns, Tallulah, Taziva-Faye Katsande, Fizzy, Ellis Sutherland, Lena/Baby face, Ava Hope Smith,Dandy Dan, Rayhaan Kufuor-Gray they are universally are excellent although not all the vocal come up to par, they deliver the characters with such conviction and comedy joy they are a treasure to watch. 

The rest of the cast is rounded out by an adult ensemble, fair enough a young adult company but adults none the less which weakens Sir Parker’s original intention that Bugsy’s world is a world of children trying to be adults its sadly lost in this production.

Jon Bausor’s Set and Costume Design is spot on the money taking us in the seedy underside of New York City in the back alleys of the Broadway Theatres where Fat Slams Speakeasy can be found. It’s also impressive to see such a large set on tour and all the staples from the film appear, this is further boosted by Philip Gladwell evocative lighting design. 

Musically all the classics are here, “Tallulah”, “so you want to be a boxer”, and “you give a little love” and are performed in style. While musical director Connagh Tonkison excellent 6-piece band power through the score, Ben Harrison’s sound design just doesn’t work, the band far outpower the cast on stage to the point lyric and lyric is utterly lost.  Even when the band aren’t playing it’s a struggle to hear lines in the admittedly large expanses of the Playhouse.

The movie version finishes with a final battle in Fat Sam’s that sees everyone covered in lashing of Cream from the splurge guys and a tsunami of Custard pies. This stage production is a damp squib, with the cleanest cast you will ever see at the end, and the world shortest battle. Yes, the Splurge guns make enough noise but don’t appear to fire any splurge, a wasted opportunity.

This Bugsy Malone is a charming affair, performed by a talented company of performers who are embracing their roles. With a running time of 2 hours including interval its well worth a watch, but they need to fix the sound and up the Splurge to make a totally satisfying affair. 

Busy Malone, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until  Saturday 19th November NOTE curtain up is 7PM! , for further information go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/bugsy-malone/edinburgh-playhouse/

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