A fun night out watching death-by-custard – is what you get at the Liverpool Empire in the spoof 1920s New York gangster musical Bugsy Malone.
Over 120 youngsters sing and dance their hearts out in what is an energetic heart-lifting jazz-age show full of great music and quick-witted gags. The action never stops with swift scene and costume changes, memorable tunes, and pseudo American accents. The youngsters almost get these right though minor first night hitches added to the fun.
The local teens are taking part in the first of this year’s Empire’s youth Stage Experience project aided by a professional director, choreographer and musical director, who put together this full scale musical production in just two weeks. The result is impressive.
Most of the fun comes from hoods being massacred with splurge guns and custard pies. And the teenage flappers in their shifts and headbands along with the boys in sharp suits and trilbies at a jaunty angle, set the scene whilst the tap dancers in their satin shorts added to the elicit excitement of Fat Sam’s speakeasy.
The verve of this young cast impacts on the audience, full of mums, dads, siblings and friends, who clapped and cheered at the end of each set piece. One vignette that stands out is the effective Chinese laundry scene where the dancers, all in white, with coolie hats, mime their way through a superbly choreographed set of laundry chores.
Star of the show is undoubtedly Craig Richardson whose commanding performance of Fat Sam shows a star in the making. Another luminary is Lewis Wren who played the key part of Bugsy Malone with confidence and pizzazz. Others who shine were Emma Mawdsley as Blousey Brown with a haunting mellow singing voice and Jessica Hunt as Tallulah. Hunt’s sultry songs enhance the mood of the whole show which depicts the desperation of great depression.
Those who have seen the film will not be disappointed with this production full of youthful exuberance where the teens perfected the clipped tones and sassy sayings of the period.
But the most fun on stage is the custard carnage where you can see that even the cast is having such a great time that the audience, right from the start, fully engaged in the revelry!
- Jeanette Smith