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Whilst I’m always eager to receive re-issues and concert performances for review, there’s nothing quite like (for a collector, anyhow) receiving a cast recording of a brand new show. It’s even more interesting when it’s from a family who’s name is synonymous with quality and longevity - The Shermans. However, whilst Richard M Sherman is still living in Beverly Hills, and still writing and performing, it’s his nephew, Robert J Sherman’s work that is SimG’s latest release - Bumblesratch - A New Musical - The London Concert Cast recording.
Bumblescratch is a new sung-through musical comedy with book, music and lyrics by Robert J. Sherman. Set in London during the Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666 and told from the perspective of a demented, lascivious plague rat named Melbourne Bumblescratch, who demonstrates his unique and twisted love affair with the ancient city through telling his marvelously gruesome tales.
Bumblescratch played a charity concert at the Adelphi Theatre, London on 4th September 2016, directed and choreographed by Stewart Nicholls, musical direction by Tom Kelly, and orchestrated by Rowland Lee. The London Concert Cast Recording features the original band and cast, was recorded at Angel Studios, and stars West End performers Darren Day, Jessica Martin, Michael Xavier and Ilan Galkoff, plus comes complete with a full colour booklet including productions photographs and lyrics.
Robert J. Sherman comes from an illustrious line of songwriters spanning more than four generations. Son of the late Robert B Sherman, at 16 he became one of the youngest songwriters ever invited to join Broadcast Music Incorporated and is an alum of their Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. At 18 he wrote songs for the musical A Christmas Held Captive (Beverly Hills Playhouse), and he is currently writing an animation musical film Inkas the Ramferinkas. In 2014 Sherman narrated and produced A Spoonful Of Sherman (St. James Theatre), which celebrated his family song-writing legacy, and his original musical Love Birds played to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival 2015 (Pleasance Theatre).
This is quite a surprising little gem from SimG, although I shouldn’t be surprised as it’s another label, along with Stage Door and Broadway Records that never seem to disappoint. The score is enjoyable, although I didn’t find many of the numbers memorable. But whilst it’s no Mary Poppins, it still features some very clever numbers. I found the second act a lot more enjoyable than the first, although one of my favourite numbers was the closing number to act one, ‘My Place In The Sun’. I must mentioned the orchestrations, which are first rate, and also the clarity of the recording, which makes them stand out even more.
The cast is extremely competent through out - although with Darren Day, Michael Xavier and Jessica Martin, was there ever any doubt in that.
All in all, a great listen and an enjoyable new musical that does the Sherman name justice.