Bugsy Malone – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Sandra Callard, August 2022
It’s never anything less than a brave concept staging Bugsy Malone. The mostly-kids only cast are, no doubt, chosen for their professionalism, talent and prowess way beyond their years, but when you throw in an inexplicably late start and no less than three technical glitches that each grind the show to a halt (on one occasion for 20 minutes) it’s something that can throw even the most experienced stage perfomer.
But not here. Iron out these issues – or do as I did and simply ignore them – and you have an utterly joyful, remarkably funny night of theatrical music and entertainment.
“Spirit and joy”
The theatre was packed to the rafters with hundreds of boys and girls of all ages, shouting and singing along with the performers. They were clearly in their element to be watching the show. Alongside the children were their mums, dads, and their various protectors who seemed just as carried away by the performance as the children did. It was without doubt the noisiest show I have seen in a long time (surpassing even the groundshaking School of Rock) but it was also, on-stage, the slickest and the nearest to the hearts of the children than any other show I have seen.
Shaun Sharma was magnificent as Bugsy Malone, showing a mature range and extraordinary stage presence for one so young, he was a delight from curtain-up to finale. l also admired the lovely voice of Delilah Bennett-Cardy as she sang the role of Blousey with spirit and joy. Indeed, the young performers amazed me with their composure, their talent and their open and sheer love for what they were doing. Apart from a small number of adult singers and dancers, the broad weight of the show was carried by children, and they carried it with an obvious passion for what they were doing – something that certain adult perfomers I’ve seen of late could take a lesson from.
Obviously, the show features petty gangsters firing loads of bullets at other boys of the same ilk, and has bodies falling all over the place, and sometimes getting up again, which I initially thought quite perplexing, but the way the young gangsters dealt with it turned the whole thing into a surprisingly funny playground, and my initial concerns melted away.
The young and misinformed mobsters slunk away in shame to have their failed misdeeds seen by hundreds, and once again the stage was filled with dancing girls, singers and laughter, and I would swear that everyone in that theatre at the close of the show was laughing, dancing or singing, or indeed practicing all three – and a glorious evening of joy was had by all.
‘Bugsy Malone’ is at Leeds Grand until 4th September