The show had youngsters in the audience often whooping with delight at the Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday.
My own grandchildren, Gabrielle, aged eight, and Ashley, six, declared it to be great fun, especially seeing kids playing gangsters who use splurge guns and custard pies instead of bullets!
Alex Dry showed excellent stage presence in the demanding role of former boxer Bugsy. Grace Allen was equally impressive as Blousey, an aspiring singer-actress with whom he falls in love.
Her voice was captivating and note perfect.
James Tomlinson treated us to a caricature of drawling mobster Fat Sam, while Becky Wyatt showed sultry charm as his alluring girlfriend Tallulah.
The story, set in the 1920s New York prohibition era, tells how rival gangster Dandy Dan (Rhys Clarke) is hell bent on closing Fat Sam’s speakeasy and murders most of his henchmen.
Director Alex Adams wisely did not err too far on either end of the spectrum – the requirement for young girls to act suggestively and the need to achieve a spoof tongue-in-cheek version of a gangster story while trying to retain some semblance of credibility.
However, a few scene changes might have been smoother and small details could have been improved such as when one person hung up the phone while the person on the other end was still speaking to them.
Choreographer Debbie Hackett produced some dazzling routines, but the boxing scene was overcrowded – it seemed the whole cast of over 80 were on a compact stage dancing at the same time.
In contrast, the Bugsy Malone and Fat Sam’s Grand Slam numbers, featuring the showgirls and hoods, were captivating, and Arron Wilder did a fine job with his solo in Tomorrow. Jake Jonas, Tyler Chambers, Lara Davis, Phoebe Daltrey and Ben Williamson offered good support.
Musical director Carl Greenwood and the Rattonians set designers contributed to an entertaining evening.
Performances are on Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm, with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Call 412000 for tickets.
Review by Tony Flood.