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Proper gang-stars

PUBLISHED: 14:28 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 17:21 16 August 2010

GANGSTER’S PARADISE: Bugsy Malone at Woodville Halls was a success.

GANGSTER’S PARADISE: Bugsy Malone at Woodville Halls was a success.

SOUND problems marred an otherwise enjoyable production of Bugsy Malone at Gravesend s Woodville Halls. Alan Parker s wittily

SOUND problems marred an otherwise enjoyable production of Bugsy Malone at Gravesend's Woodville Halls.

Alan Parker's wittily anarchic 1976 film, with toe-tapping music by Paul Williams, has been adapted for the stage with few concessions to conventional staging requirements.

There are thus many short scenes which can make it hard to build up any sense of pace - essential for a musical of this sort.

Performed by the Gravesend & District Theatre Guild, under the direction of Sandra Edmonds and Kay Carroll, Bugsy Malone sported fine performances and some exquisite dance sequences choreographed by Hayley Lampkin.

The young cast were uniformly excellent. Alex Walker, as the title character, seemed very comfortable on stage, although the speed of his vocal delivery was occasionally a little rushed.

John Siggers as the Al Capone-style Fat Sam was all swagger and mock bravado, with Jay Russell, Daniel Waller, Karl West and Alexander Willson as his likeably dopey henchmen.

His arch-rival, Dandy Dan, was nicely played by a moustachioed Alex West, with Rachel Shoard, James Cogle, Adam Forster, Georgie Hurst and Daniel Mulholland as his mob.

Bronte Tadman was splendidly catty as Tallulah, the femme fatale of this crime noir pastiche, although sadly her big Act 2 number, My Name is Tallulah, was spoilt by the aforementioned radio mic problems.

Blousey Brown, the naïve young ingénue with whom Bugsy falls in love, was beautifully performed by a radiant Daisy Martin. The picture of innocence, she contrasted nicely with Tallulah's spoilt brat persona. As the janitor with a secret desire to be a dancer, Ben Wells was superb. His heartfelt rendition of Tomorrow, in which his character yearns for the chance to show off his performing skills, was - appropriately - a chance for Wells to do the same, which he did with relish.

Music was performed with skill and gusto by Maria Penfold's four-strong band, and the Busby Berkeley-inspired dance numbers featuring Fat Sam's Dancers were highlights of the show.

Lastly, special mention goes to whoever designed the amazing, foam-spitting 'splurge guns'. The cleaning bill after each show must have been horrendous.

Mark Campbell

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