BWW Review: BUMBLESCRATCH London Concert Cast Recording
What better stocking filler could there be than the newest release from SimG Records? In September this year, Robert J Sherman's new musical comedy Bumblescratch received a charity concert at the Adelphi Theatre in London, starring West End performers Darren Day, Jessica Martin, Michael Xavier and Ilan Galkoff. The debut was greatly received by audience members and critics alike, and the original band and cast have since featured in the London Concert Cast Recording, due to be released on 19 December.
Sherman is one of four generations of talented songwriters, and is no stranger to working with Simon Greiff of SimG Records, having recorded A Spoonful of Sherman and Love Birds with the label. The story of Bumblescratch is narrated by a rat (Melbourne Bumblescratch) during the Great Plague and Great Fire between 1665 and 1666. He tells grisly tales of a catastrophic time in the city of London.
Sherman is responsible for the book, music and lyrics of the piece, and although slightly 'out there' in its content, it's entirely original and has great morals. The orchestrations are detailed and intuitive throughout and serves the content perfectly. Occasionally the melodies are a little similar from song to song, but it's the small nuances that set them apart from one another.
The individual characters are strong and none more so than the title character, played by Darren Day. His Cockney inflections are consistent yet he maintains excellent diction. He goes on a real journey across the show/recording, starting as a seedy, unreliable con artist and showing glimmers of humanity and compassion as the story unfolds - first in "Close Scrape Today", then "Music of the Spheres" and "My Place In The Sun". By Act Two, his character definitely has two sides rather than being one-dimensional.
A wonderful vocal performance comes from Jessica Martin as both Bethesda (Bumblescratch's fiancée) and Widow MacGregor. Her tone during "Beautiful Now" is stunning. The best song on the recording is probably "What Is This That I See?", performed by the baker's daughter Thamesa and a young homeless rat, Perry. Cathy Read and child actor Ilan Galkoff respectively showcase pitch-perfect harmonies and are a joy to listen to.
The ensemble work bulks up some of the musical numbers generously and there are particularly accomplished vocals featured in "Hookbeard's Theme", "Nightmare" and the finale "Trip".
The London Concert Cast Recording of Bumblescratch is now available for pre-order at www.simgproductions.com and can be purchased from 19 December