Bugsy Malone | National Tour | Review

Bugsy malone

Bugsy Malone

Chichester Festival Theatre

February 2023

Having never seen Bugsy Malone performed on stage, I was delighted to finally see the current production directed by Sean Holmes just before it ends its 8 month nationwide tour in the Sussex town of Chichester.

Set in New York City during the prohibition era. Gang leaders Fat Sam (Albie Snelson) and his rival Dandy Dan (Desmond Cole) are fighting to be top dog. Dan’s gang have a new weapon – a splurge gun. Once you are splurged you are ‘taken out – finished!’ and he is using it with effect, threatening Sam’s empire. Sam employs Bugsy Malone to help. Bugsy by his own admission is ‘a little too popular with the ladies, but a nice guy’. He has fallen for wannabe singer / actress Blousy Brown and will do anything, even Fat Sam’s bidding, to make enough money to make Blousey’s Hollywood dream come true.

Bugsy Malone is fast paced, action filled and has plenty of heart, but what sets the musical apart from the rest is that the main roles are played by insanely talented children.  The 1976 film was entirely performed by under 17 year olds launching many film and stage careers, Scott Baio, Jodie Foster and Bonnie Langford to name a few. In this touring production the ensemble are played by young adults but the seven leads were much younger and just as strong.

Each of the children’s roles are played by a rotating group of actors, on opening night in Chichester we were treated to Gabriel Payne playing Bugsy. This young man already has an impressive list of acting credits, he was confident, arresting and a joy to watch. His two flames Blousey (Mia Lakha) and Tallulah (Jasmine Sakyiama) had beautiful voices executing their solos beautifully, It was Elliot Arthur Mugume as Fizzy who stood out as his beautiful soulful voice, sounding far older than his years, filled the theatre during ‘Tomorrow never comes’, gorgeous.

There were a lot of fun moments in Bugsy Malone, lots of splurging (but with less splurge than I was expecting), a car chase (I didn’t notice any strobe warnings – definitely needed) and energetic choreography (Drew McOnie). There was a bundle of undisputed talent on stage too. A treat for all those children in Chichester looking for a half term treat.

You’ll be humming the tunes for days.


Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill