The sheer anarchic joy of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone burst on to the Stahl stage last week. Performed by 43 of the finest budding musical theatre stars from First and Second Form, this dazzling production, directed and choreographed by Hattie Hopper and Jo Henderson featured some outstanding central performances.
Nathan Raudnitz (L) was effortlessly suave and in control as the eponymous hero, Bugsy. He seemed so at home in the role that the scripted lines were as easily and naturally delivered as the occasional ad lib, much to the delight of the enthusiastic audience. Luke Seymour (L) excelled as Fat Sam, oozing an appropriate gangster-like presence and energy as he inhabited the stage with all the grandeur and assurance of a proud lion. Jamie Aubury (L) made the perfect comic side-kick to Seymour’s Fat Sam in the form of Knuckles. And Thomas Kemp’s (L) hauntingly innocent rendition of ‘Tomorrow’, as wannbe dancer Fizzy will live long in the memory.
In fact, there were so many memorable moments: the reveal of Paul Laughton’s wonderful set as we first entered Fat Sam’s Grand Slam; the ‘hoods’ dance to ‘Bad Guys’; the glittering dancing girls in ‘My Name is Tallulah’; the untimely death of Knuckles, and many more.
With such strength throughout this vast ensemble of performers, there was never a dull moment. The numerous scene changes were expertly managed by a small army of backstage crew, and the wonderful live band created a wonderfully timeless jazz band, speakeasy feel.
This exuberant production made for a fitting swansong for musical director James Thomas and Hattie Hopper, who both will be leaving this year.