“We could have been anything that we wanted to be”
The news that the Lyric Hammersmith will be reopening with a production of Bugsy Malone will have rightly gladdened the hearts of all right-thinking people and it also reminded me that I had the soundtrack to the show that I’d not gotten round to listening to yet. Where the film (featuring the likes of Jodie Foster and Scott Baio, as well as Mark Curry, Dexter Fletcher and Bonnie Langford) dubbed adult voices onto its child performers, the National Youth Music Theatre mounted an all-youth production that ended up in the West End and which had amongst its number, a certain Sheridan Smith.
There’s real interest in the soundtrack for musical fans as Paul Williams donated songs that were not included in the film, ‘That’s Why They Call Me Dandy’ and ‘Show Business’, the first of which is quite an adorable character number for Dandy Dan (sung here by Stuart Piper and the company) and the second of which is no great shakes (sung by Alex Lee, presumably the Lena Marelli character). And amongst the more familiar numbers are some lovely arrangements which bolster the tunes – the second half of ‘I’m Feeling Fine’ becomes a tender duet, the utterly beautiful ‘Tomorrow’ enhanced by company BVs.
Incidentally, ‘Tomorrow’ was, and still is, one of my favourite songs and when I was a kid, it was guaranteed to bring a tear to my eye – the combination of the soulful look in the eye and the yearning dance routine slayed me and so I hope that the Lyric can match my expectations there! Sheridan Smith makes a sparky Tallulah, leading the iconic title song ‘Bugsy Malone’ and the anthem to self-confidence that is ‘My Name is Tallulah’. Leanne Connelly and Michael Sturges are sweetly paired as the fated Blousey and Bugsy and the whole album has a great energy to it. Rough around the edges perhaps but utterly and completely in keeping with the spirit of the show.
Here’s a clip from a performance on Children in Need (which is appallingly filmed but beggars can’t be choosers)