Words & Music: Paul Williams
Director: Sean Holmes
Listen up, wisey, it’s time to get down to Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre to see the battle of the century play out between mobsters Fat Sam and his custard-pie-and-splurge-dodging rival, Dandy Dan.
Exploding onto the stage with a barrage of ‘oh, man!’s’, tough guy with a heart – the ever-persistent Bugsy Malone – and a rag-tag bunch of showgirls, dreamers, gangsters and down-and-outs lead us through a prohibition-era romp in downtown New York city.
And with a cast split between ‘Overs’ (fully grown adults) and ‘Unders’ (pint-sized young performers playing the role of adults), Bugsy certainly delivers the adventure it promises.
From elbow-jostling belters like Bad Guys to heart-string-pingers like Ordinary Fool, the cast sing and dance their way through two hours of drive-bys, heartbreaks, empty dreams and soda-joint-bust-ups – and half of them are children.
It’s funny, neatly ironic, and light-hearted throughout. As central characters, Fat Sam (Albie Snelson) and Bugsy (Gabriel Payne) bounce off each other nicely, with Snelson holding the stage and catapulting the audience into peals of laughter with his wise-guy accent and larger-than-life persona.
During the solos, it’s clear that Mia Lakha (as Blousy) has an excellent voice – she holds the audience and performs touching renditions of well-known classics. And, as saucy songstress Tallulah, Jasmine Sakyiama pulls off enough sass and strut to convince anyone she’s the wife of a mobster to be feared.
When it comes to choreography and pizazz, the Overs bring the performance to life – adding consistency to some of the slightly haphazard accents and characterisations (that are charming, in context), and providing a warm backdrop for the Unders to shine against.
The set is clever and witty – with a fair few surprises and smart turns – and the lighting and costume are brilliant, too. The performance’s second half steps up from a slightly slower first, culminating in a finale that’ll bring a smile to any audience member’s face.
A little rough around the edges in parts, but none the less enjoyable for it. Don’t miss out.
Runs until 21 Jan 2023 and continues on UK tour.