Review: Bugsy Malone, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Rachel and Seren Howells visit Wales Millennium Centre for the debut touring musical of 2023 – Bugsy Malone: The Musical!

With the current unyielding dismal weather and dark nights, a trip to the theatre is probably the last thing you want to do on an evening, but I would advise you to consider venturing to Wales Millennium Centre to see Bugsy Malone: The Musical, a feelgood tonic for those winter blues.

Originally created for the reopening of the Lyric, Hammersmith in 2015 after a major redevelopment project, this dazzling reimaging of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone: The Musical is directed by Sean Holmes and choreographed by Drew McOnie and brings the musical right up to date for seamless theatre presentation.

Set in Prohibition era New York with rival gangsters Fat Sam and Dandy Dan at logger heads. While custard pies fly and destructive ‘splurge guns’ wreak havoc, Bugsy Malone, a penniless ex-boxer and all-round nice guy, falls for Blousey Brown, an aspiring singer.

A cast combining Children and adults display constant professionalism mixed with an amazing energy that really brings Bugsy Malone: The Musical to life. Gabriel Payne’s Bugsy was played from an angle which keeps the audience guessing whose side he’s on. He also makes great chemistry with Mia Lakha as Blousey.

Albie Snelson steals the show as Fat Sam with a stage presence vaster than his young age.  The rapport he has with the adult cast especially when bossing them around is astounding. The most comedic moments are provided by Knuckles (Marcus Billany) as one of Sam’s gang of which he displays some great physical comedy as well as facial expressions.

The choreography really made the show for me, adding depth to the already well-known songs.  Its use for transition between scenes bring all the songs to life in ways you wouldn’t expect. The song “So you want to be a boxer” was very creative with the choreography developing from a boxing fitness regime to boxing match.

While the set seemed very simple when we arrived in the auditorium it was very elaborate, with just a few props and extraordinary lighting the stage changed from Fat Sam’s venue to outdoor streets and back again very smoothly.

With the ensemble casts energy, enthusiasm and professionalism, plus so many great songs, Bugsy Malone: The Musical will have you smiling all the way home and is the perfect musical to start the new year!

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