REVIEW: Bugsy Malone, Fri 31 July – Sat 1 Aug

This review of Bugsy Malone will be published on this August.

Bugsy Malone is a personal favourite of mine. It surprises me how many people aren’t aware that the Sir Alan Parker movie smash hit has been adapted for stage. I was very much looking forward to reviewing the stage production this summer, brought to Glasgow by Creative Learning Stage Experience.

Reading through the programme, it was hard to believe that I was about to watch an amateur performance. The turnout had been outstanding for a press evening with people literally squeezing between one another in the foyer – all were lost amid the same bubble of loud talking and excitement.

It’s the 1920s and reports of splurge attacks on American’s most-wanted gangs are cropping up all over the media. Fat Sam and Dandy Dan’s gangs are respectively endangering the safety of the American people. Their frequent conflicts on the streets of New York are proving catastrophic for surrounding innocents, and the fact that they keep going back into hiding afterwards is wreaking havoc with the cops! The show follows heartthrob Bugsy Malone (Euan Strachan) when, after falling for a mysterious, wannabe-singer by the name of Ms. Blousey Brown (Anna Cowen), he vows to take her to Hollywood and make her a star. Unfortunately, Bugsy knows money like that doesn’t just grow on trees and so he agrees to assist Fat Sam (Alastair McLeod) with some dangerous gang missions in exchange for the kind of dolla’ that will win him the heart and trust of Blousey.

As a whole, the production was reasonably well put together, though, slightly disjointed at times with some silences where they shouldn’t have been. In fact, given how long the cast have had to work on this production, it was all very good. The passion of the youth was all there. Their chorus numbers were a treat, consistently lifting the roof of the theatre and – contrary to school productions – not a single performer ran out of steam during those complicated dance routines. There were, however, significant problems with sound throughout, though, given that I attended on the opening night, I have every faith these were corrected before the final performances. The leads were astounding for their age, particularly Anna Cowen – Blousey Brown – who silenced the entire Theatre Royal during her solo numbers at this well attended event.

The work of  Creative Learning is fantastic, giving young people the opportunity to perform in some of the country’s most prestigious venues for a paying audience. It’s clear that a lot of hard work and dedication goes on behind the scenes in these productions and these people are in every way as responsible for the smooth-running of each show as the cast themselves. The company have generated a platform for future stars of theatre and I feel very lucky to have seen some of them here in their early days in Glasgow.

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