Fab finale lifts a slightly flat Bugsy Malone in Chichester

Bugsy Malone, Chichester Festival Theatre, February 15-19.
Bugsy Malone by Pamela Raith PhotographyBugsy Malone by Pamela Raith Photography
Bugsy Malone by Pamela Raith Photography

Superb solos from Mia Lakha, Jasmine Sakyiama and Elliot Arthur Mugume offer the stand-out moments in the UK’s first ever professional touring production of Bugsy Malone.

And the show absolutely fizzes with a brilliant closing number which sends everyone home on a high.

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But you can’t help wishing the whole thing had found its sparkle considerably earlier.

This is a show which feels like it needs its director back – to take a critical look at just where, especially in the first half, the story-telling is distinctly muzzy and above all at all those moments throughout when it all seems just a tiny bit flat.

It’s a tribute to Chichester Festival Youth Theatre that you sit there wishing the show had been given to our home-grown talents to do. They would have found the twinkle, upped the clarity and given it all the oomph it requires.

Which is a shame really – and no fault of the young cast on show tonight. The principals – backed up by an adult ensemble – are played by children, just as they were in the celebrated film all those years ago. It’s just that somehow the magic isn’t quite here this time. You wonder whether it’s a production that has been allowed to go just a little bit off the boil.

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As with a fair number of the touring shows this winter, it’s another show cursed with an unimaginative set which you get a little bit bored looking at, and here its presence underlines the fact that something somewhere is missing in all that’s unfurling on it. It never helps – though clearly no one’s fault – when a show is so late starting.

All of which stacks things against the fine young talents on the stage. The finale is terrific. It just needs that welly much, much sooner.