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.



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  1. May 12, 2015 / 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 🙂

  2. May 12, 2015 / 6:44 am

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

  3. May 12, 2015 / 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!

    • May 13, 2015 / 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.

  4. May 12, 2015 / 10:17 am

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

  5. May 12, 2015 / 10:33 am

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

  6. May 12, 2015 / 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

  7. May 12, 2015 / 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

  8. May 12, 2015 / 1:51 pm

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

  9. May 12, 2015 / 3:13 pm

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

  10. May 12, 2015 / 5:02 pm

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

    • May 13, 2015 / 6:02 pm

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

  11. Hannah Staveley
    May 12, 2015 / 8:09 pm

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

  12. May 13, 2015 / 12:56 pm

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

  13. May 13, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    I love bugsy Malone it is one if my favourite musicals

  14. May 13, 2015 / 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

  15. May 14, 2015 / 10:25 am

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

  16. May 16, 2015 / 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

  17. May 17, 2015 / 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!

  18. May 19, 2015 / 1:11 pm

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

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