Presented by Adelaide Youth Theatre
Reviewed 17 October 2015
Bugsy Malone is the story of two gangs set in New York in the 1920s. It predominantly revolves around Fat Sam’s Speak Easy Club and the ongoing feud he has with Dandy Dan, the rival gang leader who is trying to take over Sam’s empire.
The plot has all the usual characters you would expect in a Gangster story including the up and coming right hand man, a love interest who also doubles as the budding singer wanting to make a name for herself on the way to Hollywood, and all the mobsters who form the gangs. However you won’t find the usual guns and violence usually associated with this type of plot line, as it is entirely G rated with the entire cast made up of children offing one another with silly string and cream pies. The Adelaide Youth Theatre’s production, with a cast full of talented young people, brings this classic production to life at the Star Theatre.
Ned Baulderstone does a wonderful job portraying the lead role of Bugsy Malone for the Dodgers Cast and has a great on-stage presence with Gemma Dandie, who plays his love interest Blousey Brown. Gemma’s voice is delightful and she really draws the crowd into each of her songs as does Zali Sedgman with her sassy portal of Fat Sam’s leading lady Tallulah.
The main characters do a wonderful job of portraying their characters and in particular conquering accents and keeping them for the entire performance. However, they could have been even better with more direction from the directors on the little things; such as how to slow down their speech and waiting for audience applause to die down before delivering their lines.
The cast do a great job of interacting with the audience and you get a sense that you are right in the story with them, although if you are looking for an authentic 1920s feel it unfortunately falls short with the costume and hair stylists : choosing to dress the Speak Easy show girls in bright pink sequins and high bun hairstyles rather than 1920 styles. This also carries through to the Laundromat scene which did not include the original Chinese theme but rather a plainly dressed scene and the most well dressed ‘down and out’ers I have seen – with some even donning fur head scarves.
Costumes aside, the set is minimal but effective; and having the orchestra on stage is always a nice addition. However, it would have been nice to see them interact with the show a bit more; this also applying to cast members who were used in large numbers for dance scenes, yet were missing from scenes such as the restaurant in favour of having Bugsy and Blousey on stage by themselves.
The absolute highlights of the show were Fat Sam’s Gang members in the song number Bad Guys. These boys bought the house down with their hilarious routine. Captin Smolsky also brought the audience to life anytime he entered the stage, with his crazy Irish side kick Detective O’Dreary. Their slapstick comedy is aimed at the child audience and as such has you laughing at their crazy antics.
There are certainly some very talented young actors in Adelaide and this production hosted a number of them in what can best be described as a light hearted family show that will have the children laughing and the adults singing along to the songs.
Reviewed by Tara Forbes
Venue: Star Theatres
Season: 16 – 18 October 2015
Duration: 2 hours (including interval)
Tickets: $30.00 – $35.00