Churchill Theatre Summer Youth Production – until 11 August 2018
Reviewed by Elizabeth J Smith
The 1920’s New York. Two rival gangs of hoodlums are at war. Dandy Dan, the smooth, sophisticated head of one gang has a new weapon, the splurge gun, that has revolutionised “taking care of business”. Fat Sam, head of the other gang, only has pies to take down his opponents, and is losing his team rapidly. He needs help and calls in Bugsy Malone, a smooth city slicker to assist. Bugsy is distracted by his pursuit of would be singer Blousy Brown and when Fat Sam offers him £400 dollars to take care of business he sees away to win Blousy’s heart by taking her to Hollywood. Blousy is unsure how sincere Bugsy is as she always finds him with Tallulah, the sassy night club singer, hanging off him. As Fat Sam has no gang members left Bugsy must find help to take down Dandy Dan and finds the solution by rallying the “down and outs” to take on the fight.
The curtain rises on a simple, effective set, as the piano begins to play its iconic staccato notes, the stage fills with a very full cast of enthusiastic actors and dancers.
Fat Sams singers, Abigail Assock, Kayleigh Weaver and Nadia Pettit-Johnson, sing harmoniously carrying some difficult melodic lines.
The narrators, Alex Valder and Adam Reggio, give an account of the state of play with the two gangs with clear diction and accents.
Fat Sam, Eleanor Butler, gives a commanding performance of the gang leader who can see her empire being taken from under her nose. Conveying her irritations with her somewhat inept gang. Especially Knuckles, played by Jess McKenzie-Phillips, and her irritating knuckle crunching. All four gang members are believable clowns.
Bugsy Malone, Joshua Williams-Ward, carries this suave character with confidence.
Dandy Dan, Anders Coode, gives the air of success and money.
Tallulah, Lucy Piper, nonchalant about her position as the head liner at Fat Sams and a little bitchy to the new comer Blousy.
Blousy Brown, Rebecca Seed, conveyors the despair she feels at chasing her dream of stardom and sings with passion and feeling.
There are many memorable scenes in this production but the ones that stood out for me were the auditions for Lena Marelli replacement. The opera singer, magician, ventriloquist, trio twins, street dancers and Shakespearean actor were hilarious and Lena herself, Evie McKale, the precocious brat. The bumbling keystone cops and their slapstick comedy and the ingenious car chase.
Congratulations to the production team, Glenn Tillin, director, Daniel Beach, MD, and Larrissa Webb, choreographer, for putting on a professional, imaginative performance. Capturing the essence of the original film and seamlessly incorporating a very large cast.
As a youth production you don’t need to have a child in the show to enjoy this production.
Thoroughly enjoyable night out.