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Bugsy Malone at the Lyric, Hammersmith

Bugsy Malone

Bugsy Malone is at the Lyric, Hammersmith until 1 August 2015. It is recommended for ages 6 and over. Tickets cost between £15 and £40.

Bugsy Malone

Sasha Gray as Bugsy Malone. Photo by Manuel Harlan

When Alan Parker wrote the screenplay for Bugsy Malone, back in 1974, children’s theatre and film were practically non-existent. He wanted to create a movie for his four children – and so he dreamt up a story that would be entirely acted by children.

To a modern audience, Bugsy Malone might seem a peculiar fish. Tiny gangsters with squeaky voices, wielding genuine-looking guns which shoot people ‘dead’. And, in the background, a narrative about love, hope and poverty that would sit convincingly in a film made for adults. It’s only the custard pies and goo shot from the splurge guns that tell us it’s ‘for the kids’.

I must admit that, as a child, the film version (starring a diminutive Jodie Foster) left me cold. But, when transferred to the stage, the verve, energy and enormous heart of the screenplay shine through; the Lyric’s version, with jaw-dropping choreography by Drew McOnie, transformed what I had always thought of as a rather wan tale, into a joyous spectacle. Alan Parker was reputedly not a great lover of the piece onstage, but I vastly preferred it. And my son – as well as the other children around us – expressed their pleasure in giggles, shrieks and gasps. The small boy next to me even had to be prised off my lap at one point, when he rolled there in a fit of hysterics.

Bugsy Malone

So you wanna be a boxer? Photo by Manuel Harlan

Bugsy Malone is the first show to be performed at the newly re-opened Lyric, after it doubled in size to include a dance studio, editing suite, recording studio and three restaurants (one of which, the Roof Garden, is open as a barbeque in the summer months). All the renovations are accompanied by a commitment to work with young people; if the Bugsy Malone cast is anything to go by, this should help support high levels of professionalism among fledgeling actors. Several budding stars shone out of this performance, including a super-slinky Asanda Jezile as Tallulah; powerful-yet-tiny Archie Lewis as Dandy Dan; soulful Marley Lockhart as Fizzy; and a magnetic Dale White as head of the boxing school.

Bugsy Malone

Asanda Jezile as Tallulah. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Sean Holmes’ direction brought together a wide range of individual talents into an ensemble show, without dimming the lights of these mini-stars. A few extra solos were thrown into the final song, so we got to hear more of the youngsters’ voices. And at the end they broke into an up-to-date dance finale, taking it in turns to gyrate in the centre of a circle of clapping gangsters. The enthusiasm was infectious: we couldn’t help but get up and dance around in front our seats. On the way out, huge grins were everywhere to be seen.

Bugsy Malone is a punchy debut for the revamped Lyric. I suspect it may become the musical show of the summer.

Disclosure: we were given tickets for Bugsy Malone for the purpose of this review. All views are my own.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best theatres for kids in London.

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20 Comments

  • Shell Louise
    May 12, 2015 at 6:31 am

    I’ve never made it all the way through the movie version and when I recorded it for the kids to watch, they got bored with it as well.
    This sounds great though and I’m sure my girls would love the experience 🙂

    Reply
  • Phoebe @ Lou Messugo
    May 12, 2015 at 6:44 am

    I love the stage version of Bugsy but you’re right, the film is quite peculiar.

    Reply
  • Domestic Goddesque
    May 12, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Recently introduced my children to the film version (agree that Jodie Foster is creepy) which they adored. Suspect they may feel even more enamored if I took them to the stage show. They are desperate to see things on stage but at £40 a go, I’m waiting for Kids Go Free in August tickets to go online!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 13, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      This stage version really is something special. The premier £40 seats are a bit pricey, but there are cheaper tickets available too – it’s worth a look.

      Reply
  • Erica Price
    May 12, 2015 at 10:17 am

    That does look good – I keep meaning to take my son to see a musical.

    Reply
  • angela hamilton
    May 12, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I love Bugsy Malone!! The film is a bit, strange, but still fun

    Reply
  • Rachel
    May 12, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Ive never seen it in full, it isn’t really my sort of thing but it sounds as though the stage version is better than the film x

    Reply
  • Jen aka Muminthemadhouse
    May 12, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Oh this sounds amazing. I know that the boys would love this too. I really miss living close to London where we could see stuff like this on a more regular basis

    Reply
  • Mums do travel
    May 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic show. I remember really enjoying the film as a child.

    Reply
  • Cass@frugalfamily
    May 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    This looks like something my two would love – shame we aren’t closer xx

    Reply
  • Samantha Thurley
    May 12, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    One of my favourite shows ever, I even played Talulah in a school production……Just don’t tell anyone xxx

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Woo hoo get you! I bet that was a REALLY fun role to play.

      Reply
  • Hannah Staveley
    May 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Now I bed this is amazing to see on stage ,always been a fan of the movie.

    Reply
  • Globalmouse
    May 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Oh this looks great – definitely one to add to the list, thank you for the recommendation.

    Reply
  • Ninjacat
    May 13, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    I love bugsy Malone it is one if my favourite musicals

    Reply
  • Sarah Bailey
    May 13, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I’ve never seen Bugsy Malone on stage it is one show I would love to get to go and see sometime. x

    Reply
  • Kara
    May 14, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I did Bugsy Malone at school – would love to see this

    Reply
  • Jaime Oliver
    May 16, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    i would love to see this! i am hoping to catch a show soon so will certainly be looking this up! x

    Reply
  • Sarah Ebner
    May 17, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Ooh, I was wondering what you’d think! My son (the aspiring actor and astronaut!) is very keen to see this and your review makes it sound extremely tempting. He had a friend who got down to the last 5 for Bugsy but didn’t make it, which was very frustrating – that would have been even more reason to go!

    Reply
  • Sara-Jayne
    May 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Bugsy Malone might just have been my most watched film as a little girl! I would love to see this too!

    Reply

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