Some of the best loved musicals of all time have come from the Shermans. They are true classics, and I think Robert J. Sherman’s Bumblescratch could be on its way to being just that.
It is refreshing to see a new classic musical, as even though musicals have developed and changed in style over the years, there is still a place for these sorts of shows which is why they are revived time and time again. It could be compared in style to Oliver, Les Miserablés, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and unsurprisingly Mary Poppins, but that’s not to say it’s a copy, as it does bring its own flair to the genre.
The cast, on the whole, are strong. To start with, I have to mention the lead Darren Day (Bumblescratch). In a time where the industry is furious when celebrities who star in musicals aren’t up to scratch or deserving of roles (and in my opinion, rightly so) Darren Day is an example of how casting directors can really get this right. I know he has done musicals in the past, but it has to be said that Darren Day really takes the role with both hands, and I can’t imagine a better or more deserving actor receiving this role.
This is the same with Ilan Galkoff, (Perry) a young and exceptionally talented performer. For a boy of 12, he is an extremely impressive force to be reckoned with and his character’s wonderful relationship with Bumblescratch works brilliantly, as the duo play off each other with ease. The pair are completely heartwarming and it was a shame not to have Perry in the second act more, although it was a necessary part of the storyline (which at times I didn’t quite follow, but as the musical is at an earlier stage than a West End show, this can perhaps be forgiven).
The three adult male leads, – Michael Xavier (Hookbeared), Jacob Chapman (Socrates) and previously mentioned Darren Day (Bublescratch) – could be criticised for being written quite similarly to each other, however with little details, the trio did manage to differentiate the roles well, which is impressive considering they had only two weeks to rehearse the show (which shocked me as the cast seemed extremely comfortable and settled with the piece, which Stewart Nicholls has directed and choreographed – the choreography is also something to be celebrated – should be applauded for). They sing this gorgeous score beautifully and really bring the show to life.
Often one ensemble member stands out, and in this case it was Teddy Moynihan (Squabbler), who lights up the stage and is a true triple threat. I found myself drawn to him in scenes where he was less featured, and his song later in the show was one of the stand out performances of the evening. Yet, he was not alone in this as the whole ensemble were great, providing lots to watch on stage and brilliantly executing Stewart Nicholls wonderful choreography and Robert J. Sherman’s arrangements, led by the talented Musical Director Tom Kelly.
The show isn’t groundbreaking or new, and it’s the type of show we have seen before but that’s what I loved about it. I think Bumblescratch holds its own in a genre of well known and loved musicals, and I am excited to see how it will develop, as I think it could perhaps become a new classic.
Reviewed by Kara Alberts