Based on Alan Parker’s hit 1976 film, Bugsy Malone the Musical is a hilarious take on mobsters and molls in which two bosses fight it out for supremacy. Armed with machine guns which shoot pink ‘splurge’ and pies which kill, the two sides go for all-out war.

And yet it’s all good fun. Gangsters who have been ‘splurged’ get up a moment later, speak to the audience and then walk off. Romance is confined to a chaste kissed finger placed on a lip or a bunch of flowers. And even the punch-ups are more about acrobatics than violent fisticuffs.

Furthermore, following the example set by Parker, the lead roles in this show, which is currently on stage in the main house of Birmingham Rep, are all played by young people, three actors rotating each of the key roles.

At the centre is Bugsy Malone, played on press night by Gabriel Payne. With his New York drawl and his tailored suit and hat, Bugsy appears to be the archetypal gangster but we soon learn that he puts love above all else when he falls for Blousey, who arrives in the city hoping to make her name as a singer and actress.

Payne blends nonchalance with a desire to win Blousey’s heart – so much so that he will take on dangerous work with the mob bosses to raise cash to take her to Hollywood.

Mia Lakha easily masters the role of Blousey, giving us a small town girl who comes wide-eyed to the city and yet is determined to make her way. Her solo Ordinary Fool is a showstopper in which she holds the audience in her hand.

Also irresistible is Aidan Oti as Fizzy, who spends his time mopping floors but is desperate to be allowed to audition in Fat Sam’s Bar. Constantly told the audition will be ‘tomorrow’, he gives a heart-felt rendition of the sorrowful song Tomorrow, dancing around his mop and telling us one day he will be remembered as the next Fred Astaire.

Albie Snelson packs lots of humour into his role as the gangland boss Fat Sam. He has great comic timing and his asides to the audience are real gems of the show.

The musical is bursting with energy thanks to some dynamic dance routines choreographed by Drew McOnie. Whether it is flapper girls swivelling their hips or boxers squaring up to each other, the dancing is lively and imaginative, making the most of some earworm songs including Bad Guys sung by a group of hoodlums and Fat Sam’s Grand Slam.

The sets and costumes by Jon Bausor take us back to 1920s’ New York with easily recognisable motifs - including the city’s iconic metal fire escape style steps and glitzy bars with guys in sharp suits and gals in sparkly silver flapper dresses and feathers in their hair.

Directed by Sean Holmes, and produced by The Rep, Theatre Royal Bath and Kenny Wax, Bugsy Malone is a family show packed with humour, great songs, wonderful dance routines and a host of memorable characters.

Four stars.

Reviewed by Diane Parkes at The REP, Birmingham, on Friday 29 July. Bugsy Malone continues to show at The REP until Sun 14 August. Bugsy Malone then shows at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre from Tues 13 - Sun 18 September.