Book: Alan Parker
Music and Lyrics: Paul Williams
Director: Robert Marsden
Reviewer: Hannah Powell
Friday 4th August sees one hundred youngsters aged 10-21 enthusiastically take to the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre in their rendition of Bugsy Malone, the American gangster play famously performed entirely by a cast of children. The tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the New York mob scene is the latest production by Stage Experience, the theatre’s annual summer scheme which aims to seek out the talented youths of Milton Keynes for the stage. In the space of only twelve days, the cast have been subjected to the highest professional standards working tirelessly with the creative team to produce the show, an incredible achievement for those so young.
The forty-year-old story begins with Dandy Dan’s (Joshua Addington) group of hoodlums terrorising New York with their ‘splurge guns’, hitting mobsters and lawyers alike. When Fat Sam’s (Nathaniel Thomas) Grand Slam Speakeasy comes under threat and his whole gang have been whipped out, he turns to the one man who can help him get to the bottom of this, Bugsy Malone (Jamie Williams). Meanwhile, Blousey Brown (Amy Hales) is looking to make it as a singer, but after being told to always ‘come back tomorrow’ she’s at the end of her rope. Meeting Bugsy gains her a chance at not only her dream but love as well – if only Bugsy can keep his promises and his head.
The set is simple using different levels to display each location such as Fat Sam’s Office and Dandy Dan’s mansion. While it is a shame that at times the stage seems quite cramped, the creativity displayed in creating such spaces must be acknowledged, particularly the use of lighting to create the dangerous car chase through rough terrain. The band never misses a note, though at times it is hard to hear the actors on stage through the crescendo of instruments.
Each cast member takes to the stage with passion throwing themselves into each dance number and song. Despite a couple of flat notes, the amount of raw emotion put into each song is incredible to see, particularly speakeasy cleaner Fizzy (Daniel Niles) who wows the audience with his soulful voice and elegantly executed dance moves. Hales must also be commended for her vocal talents, showing great control and knowledge of when to change her belting tones into softer more emotional ones.
Overall, each individual who contributes to the production should be proud of themselves. With the rehearsal period being on the shorter side a lot was asked on the cast in terms of professionalism, but each of them delivers, producing an enthusiastic performance which friends and family won’t soon forget.
Runs until 5 August 2017 | Image: Contributed