OffSpringers at the Cramphorn Theatre
Hard not to love Bugsy Malone. Catchy Twenties-type tunes, cute gang violence.
Its USP of course is that hoodlums and hoofers alike are all played by children, making it a good choice for OffSpringers.
Some veterans in the large cast, but loads of novices, too, which leads to some inconsistency in style, some inaudibility. But plenty to enjoy, especially the dance routines, in splendid period costumes.
In the title role, Matt Scott has an easy, laid-back charm, leading us through the story. Rose Gowen is an excellent Blousey Brown, a strong woman holding her own amongst the gangsters; Lizzy Newsome makes an imposing Tallulah.
No boys among the “namby-pamby dancers”, but plenty of opportunities for the girls amongst the henchmen of Sam and Dan [Devran Arslan and Aaron Bell], notably Sicily Riordan's lovely Knuckles. Ore Kane is the frustrated Fred Astaire Fizzy.
Loads of talent in the smaller roles, too: Max Eagle's Lieutenant O'Dreary, Daisy Dodsworth's Lena, in a gorgeous gown, Sam Aldwinkle's priceless Marbini and many more.
The staging uses the space well – band at the back, with lovely period music stands, the bar and the bookshop to one side, leaving plenty of room for the production numbers, choreographed by Helen Arber. The Down and Outs, the dressing-room mirrors, the boxers all very effective. I liked the violin dirge for the stiffs – Tegan Beckett – and "cellist" Tiegan Crisp for a few surreal seconds disguised as a standard lamp.
And splurge galore from the opening minutes, including the best show-down shoot-out ever, with the packed audience targeted by tin-foil ribbons.
Bugsy Malone is directed for OffSpringers by Fiona Lipscomb, with Kate Gowen the MD.