Friday, July 11, 2014


CCHS and KEGS at King Edward VI School

A ground-breaking collaboration between the two great schools on Broomfield Road fills the wide stage with an impressive team of Lower School performers. Peopling the child-friendly Chicago gangland of Alan Parker's timeless musical with colourful characters.
An elegant, arrogant Tallulah, contrasted with the sincerity of Blousey Brown, the excellent auburn torch singer who holds the stage with those big numbers, and dreams of Hollywood. Good work too from Malone's laid-back, wide-tied narrator and speak-easy boss Fat Sam – nice accent and promising stage presence. Not to mention the monosyllabic Leroy, and the enjoyable comedy duo of Smolsky and O'Dreary, incompetent cops.
In Act Two especially, some lovely moments: the death of Knuckles, the strong soup-kitchen ensemble, the slomo rumble, Babyface seizing her moment. And to finish, a spectacular splurge-gun showdown – real suspense during the countdown, and then cascades of deadly foam transforming the gangsters into white statues before the clever curtain calls, the large cast slipping and sliding through the routine.
Bugsy Malone was directed by James Russell, with Becky Chant the musical director in charge of the toe-tapping little pit band.

1 comment:

Richard Broadway said...

James Russell bows out in style. A ground-breaking collaboration with the young ladies across the road, a full-scale Lower School Musical, a big show to end the summer term with a bang [or at least a splurge …]
Bugsy Malone, unfailingly popular since the film first screened in the 70s, is set on a nicely designed black and white set, with a small dance stage for the speakeasy routines, and much action out front: the “book emporium”, and the park bench, complete with street-lamp, where we first meet our narrator and romantic lead, Mr Malone himself.
The prohibition world of New York mobs is crammed with larger than life characters – a gift to the young actors.
Roxy Robinson, Dandy Dan, and Fat Sam, nicely characterized here, the hapless owner of the Grand Slam. And strong women, too, the contrasting dames: Tallulah, egotistical and elegant, Blousey, sassy and feisty. Stylish singing, from Blousey especially, sensitively accompanied by the classy little pit band under the baton of Becky Chant, who also gets her hands on the splurge gun !
Good character work from Knuckles, the lanky bodyguard whose accidental demise is amusingly milked, from the comedy cops, and from Fizzy the janitor, who dreams of being a dancer. Shame he never gets to shed his overalls and his duster to show us some of those Astaire steps …
There is excellent dancing elsewhere, though, with a stylish white-gloved a cappella trio at the top of the show, twelve backing dancers for Tallulah in the second act, and a lovely dream ballet for “Ordinary Fool”.
[Plus a couple of bonus dance numbers in the interval, including an impressive unaccompanied tap routine – the only tap shoes in the show, alas.]
Memorable moments include the auditions sequence, complete with vent act, the four hoodlums' song-and-dance routine, and the finale, with those splurge guns spraying foam everywhere in a synchronised slapstick shoot-out, till gangsters, dancers, cops and molls become ghostly snowmen, skidding through their riotous curtain calls.
Nearly forty youngsters on stage, with more students in the band, directed by James Russell, assisted by Henry Sainsbury. MD Becky Chant was assisted by Jamie Cochrane, and the producer was Brogan Hannah, who also oversaw the costumes – all those raincoats …

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