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Bugsy Malone (Southampton)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
There were many immensely proud parents in the Mayflower Theatre on the opening night of Bugsy Malone, and not without good reason. This in-house youth production, which has been created in a mere 12 days, is mesmerising.

The thought of directing and choreographing a youth production with a cast of over 200 young people is a colossal feat which may have seemed impossible. But the incredible production team of Michael Ockwell, Director; Rachel Fox, producer and designer and Rebecca Leonard Choreographer and every member of their inspired team are to be congratulated on their triumph.

The story transports us back to New York in the 1930's prohibition era. Dandy Dan is trying to close Fat Sam's speakeasy down, and murders some of his henchmen. A full out Mafioso style war ensues between the rival gangs. This sets the scene for the rest of this high energy, hilarious production. There are the obvious love interests and many comedic, slapstick moments to delight the highly partisan audience.

Every single young person has a character and plays it brilliantly. Their sheer enthusiasm, dynamism and obvious delight at their outstanding success, captivate the packed audience. The atmosphere in the theatre is quite astounding and it is difficult to believe this is not a professional production.

The five leading characters are sensational and will no doubt be names to watch for the future.

Bugsy Malone played by Chance Perdomo exudes confidence and authority in this very demanding role. He is charismatic and it is no wonder that the entire female cast swoon whenever he is on stage.

Fat Sam (Tom Hopgood) is a tongue in cheek caricature of every infamous mobster. He swaggers, drawls and releases pent up anger at every opportunity whilst commanding his ineffectual gang of henchman.

Tallulah, Fat Sam's flirtatious, aloof and sultry girlfriend is played to perfection by Chloe Rice. She leads her bevy of beautiful girls in some great chorus action.

Tamlin Morgan is Blousey Brown), the love interest of Bugsy and an aspiring actress/ singer. She has a pitch perfect voice and performs a poignant acapella solo quite hauntingly.

Dandy Dan (George Shrapnell) is Fat Sam's arch enemy. He plays a laconic, laid back Mob Leader, ruling his booted and suited, splurge gun toting gang with effortless ease.

Other principals that captured my heart include ‘Baby Face' (Nathan Deane) and Lucy-May Alner as Lena Marelli. Both youngsters have great stage presence and are super in their cameo roles.

The orchestra, splendidly led by Simon Slater, provides toe tapping, exciting accompaniment throughout. Amazingly, as with every other element of this production, youngsters form part of the orchestra! Noteworthy also is the solo clarinettist on stage Emily McKie.

The atmospheric lighting, swift scene changes and the authentic costumes all add to this lavish, exhilarating show. A real shame this only runs for three performances.

- Veronica Crowley