REVIEW: ‘Bugsy Malone’ – Curtain Call Creative

If you’re a follower of the Island theatre scene, then you already know that ‘Curtain Call Creative’ Performing Arts School have gained a reputation for staging brilliant musicals showcasing some of the island’s best young talent. So, as I took my seat at Medina Theatre for their latest musical production, Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone, I knew they would pull it out of the bag.

Based on the iconic film of the same name, the show transports us to New York in the 1920’s, as two rival bosses, Fat Sam and Dandy Dan, engage in a turf war with splurge guns and pinstripe suits galore. Using a split-level set and impressive lighting to capture the film-noir mood, the production really made use of the space available. 

The musical numbers in this show packed a punch of colour and movement. Fat Sam’s Grand Slam set the mood for the rest of the show, with the chorus providing a feast for the eyes and ears. The Show Girls were fabulous throughout, and the choreography from Ashleigh Mackness and Suzie Morris worked well to capture the distinct mood of each song. 

In the title role of Bugsy, Tom Thorne charmed the audience. His mannerisms were spot-on for the smooth-talking narrator, who finds himself drawn into the shenanigans between the two gangsters, whilst trying to woo his love interest, Blousey Brown. Sienna Hobbs took on this role, portraying a sensitivity and vulnerability that belied her years, especially in her rendition of ‘Ordinary Fool’.

Alfie Luke excelled as Fat Sam. His New York dialect and characterisation were brilliant, and had the audience in stitches alongside the skilled George Sales (as Knuckles) in their scene where a splurge gun malfunctions.

Ava Cowan gave a superb performance as seductive Tallulah, with her beautiful smoky tone and dancing highlighting what a triple threat this girl is.

George Green as Dandy Dan was menacing, and he commanded the stage well. 

The part of Fizzy (the cleaner who desperately wants to audition for Fat Sam but keeps being told to come back “tomorrow”) was certainly not going to let the audience overlook her talent; Jemima Rees was entrancing in the role.

Some highlights in the show for me included ‘Bad Guys’ (performed by Fat Sam’s gang) – a true masterclass in slapstick comedy that was brilliantly choreographed; Frankie Mackness-Foster as Lena Marelli, who was unreservedly sassy and adorable; Kieran Adams as Cagey Joe, who took the lead on the challenging song ‘So You Wanna Be a Boxer’ with determination, supported well by Freddie Holme as Leroy and the ensemble. But the real “star of the show” (in her own words) was the smallest cast member, Polly Careless, as Baby Face who stole the scene and our hearts with her stage presence.

Putting on a production to such a high quality is no easy feat, and this show included an authentic wardrobe, actual splurge guns firing cream, a live orchestra and a brilliant set. Seeing the crew in 1920’s garb was just another little touch of how this group differentiate themselves from the rest. The live orchestra, led by Andrew Woodford, were fantastic, and the sound mixing was at the perfect balance. Director Daniel Farmer worked comedy magic with the cast of just children, to provide 2 hours of entertainment that he and all behind the production should feel very proud of.

There were so many small cameos throughout the show that makes this a true ensemble piece of theatre, and unfortunately not enough space to write about all the fabulous children who shone in their moment in the spotlight. But shine they did! The audience didn’t get much break from laughing or cheering at the end of each scene or song. It truly was a delightful piece of theatre that left us all grinning from ear to ear.

Review by Bryony Bishop

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