Thanks to StageFaves, I was the lucky winner of the grand prize to front row tickets to the one-night-only West End Premiere of Bumblescratch, a new comedy musical by Robert J Sherman. In addition to this, I was lucky enough to meet the cast and attend the after party. It was all very out of my depth and crazy but I had a wonderful time, so thank you very much!

Hosted at the Adelphi Theatre, Bumblescratch was performed to raise money for the children’s charity Variety. It was also written to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, which is where the show took place. It is important to note that the cast learnt and put on the show in just two weeks, and the technical crew only came in on the day of the performance – so bear that in mind as you read this review.

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The story revolves around a rat named Melbourne Bumblescratch (Darren Day), a cheeky rogue with a hidden heart of gold who is also proclaimed as the “greatest storyteller”, and it is through his eyes we see the show. The show follows his path from rogue to redemption, all through the medium of song.

The songs themselves are wonderful, with recurring melodies and playful language and rhyme.  A particular favourite of mine included Bumblescratch and Hookbeard (Michael Xavier) sparring in “I Cannot Hear You”. The metatheatrics of this piece “You’ve got a bigger range than me/ It’s your show, Scratchy” were hilarious, and I’d like to have seen more of Bumblescratch “freezing” people to tell his story in the show just to supplement the idea that he is the narrator and controller of the story.
The tunes to every song was catchy, and proof of this is that I am STILL singing “At Least A Rat Has Got An Excuse” in my head (and it has been almost twenty-four hours).

However, despite the wonderful songs, the story seemed to lack a little something. Maybe because it was all sung-through some plot points were missed, but it didn’t feel as if it was a tightly-structured plot. For example, I didn’t understand the reason of Xavier’s character Hookbeard (a ghost pirate). At the end of the show, I felt a sense that I wasn’t feeling as close to the characters as I should have considering all they had been through. However, I can imagine that with a little extra work on making the story more cohesive, that it would leave me with possible tears in my eyes.

Saying all of this, the cast themselves – small as they were – were absolutely phenomenal. Darren Day, who took on the majority of the vocal work as the titular character, had charisma and cockney charm, and held some great audience interaction. Ilan Galkoff, as Perry, the small rat who accompanies Bumblescratch, is a phenomenon. Galkoff has such energy and holds himself very well on the stage, and is a standout from the second he makes his entrance. His voice is also very strong, as proven in his solo “Adorable Me!” which is, of course, very adorable. I cannot praise Galkoff enough. Jessica Martin as Bumblescratch’s long-suffering fiancée Bethesda was great when on stage, but I wish her character had been developed more than just the “nagging female partner” trope. Members of the ensemble Katie Kerr and Teddy Moynihan also stood out to me with their facial expressions, comic timing, and dance skills.

Despite a few technical issues (which are understandable), I certainly hope this show comes back for more than just a one-off. It is full of catchy songs, funny lyrics, and a lot of heart – you could really tell the performers were enjoying every second on the stage.

I was very lucky to meet the composer Robert J Sherman (the son and nephew of the iconic Sherman Brothers) during the interval, and also attend the after party. It was pretty glamorous with press and people I recognised, and myself and my friend Jamie who I brought along with me had a brilliant time. Thanks StageFaves!

Images courtesy of StageFaves.

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