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Bugsy Malone

It’s a funny little place Swanage. Some villages in Dorset are bigger than Swanage and yet it’s never failed to produce more than its fair share of talent.

It’s good to see, through the upcoming generations, the performing arts are in safe hands.

Bugsy Malone is a fabulous show; I’ve seen it many times. The parents of tonight’s cast must be very proud. I would be.

It’s easy to pick out the stars, and I suppose they are important, but it’s all the ensemble that gets my attention. What a great bunch they were. I tend to look at the other performers while the “star” is doing their bit and from the opening chorus number in Fat Sams I was so impressed to see every performer really living the story. From couples at tables to groups by the bar everyone was totally in character. I now single out my first performer; the young man – not credited – playing the barman. Whenever the barman was on stage he was so in the moment I felt transported to some seedy bar in that fair city.

Fat Sam, played by Toby Wright, was amazingly confident. When he let the anger flare up in Act 2 he convinced me he was raving mad beneath a suave exterior. I could easily see him sending someone a horse’s head for a present.

Miro Vosper played a very sassy, very funny, femme-fatale. I’ve no idea how old she is but her stage presence, her comic timing and, yes, that voice was superb.

But Holly Gate, as our lady in red, Blousey Brown wouldn’t be outdone. Another fabulous voice and such connection with “Ordinary Fool” I wonder what life’s lessons have been visited upon her; a great actor.

Another show stealer was a youngster in the auditions who strode on stage, took control and delivered a great rendition of Swanee. Sadly the programme doesn’t say who she is.

Amelia Seaman must be mentioned. She not only has a beautiful voice, she has a lovely touch with the violin that punctuates a few moments really quite beautifully even if somewhat ironically; hats off to the director for exploiting that talent.

I could go on but I must say deep respect to Alfie French for his Bugsy Malone. That’s a big responsibility for anyone. I guess it’s a testament to Alan Parker’s vision that he wrote a show for young performers that made no concessions to the fact they would be, well… young. He clearly believed in their abilities to rise to a challenge; a challenge that Alfie French exceeded. He carried the part with an assuredness that belies his years, He really was a relaxed, laid-back, connected dude from New York, with all the talk and all the moves.

Stand out moment? Down and Out. Beautifully lit, sympathetically, simply choreographed. Simple costume, perfect lighting. Spellbinding!

There were some wrinkles on first night. Set changes were tedious with the orchestra vamping to cover the them. By Saturday they’ll only get the first chord out!

A lot of dialog was lost to the orchestra; always a problem with a live band. There’s only so low they can go.

Poor young lady news reader who was lost behind a huge microphone.

There were and several other little niggles like not picking up and speaking into the candlestick telephone.

But these are the stuff of a picky reviewer.

I’d say to the cast and their parents, “Give yourselves a huge round of applause. You deserve it!”

Bugsy Malone plays at the Mowlem Theatre until 3rd November.