As A Spoonful of Sherman, a tribute to three generations of Sherman family music, including childhood classics by the Sherman Brothers, continues Live at Zedel until 20 August 2017, Ian Foster reviews related albums.
“What is this that I see” … Robert J Sherman’s musical Bumblescratch played a high-profile charity concert at the Adelphi Theatre last year and keeping up the energy behind this piece of new writing, the original band and cast made this London Concert Cast Recording at Angel Studios, under the auspices of the folks at SimG Records. It’s a canny way to keep up the profile of a show that only a handful of people got to see and a useful tool for those that did to reassess the score.
Sherman’s extensive family legacy (A Spoonful of Sherman) means that the family friendly ethos is never far from the surface and it is something that has emerged in his previous work (Love Birds). And in some ways, it is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that he clearly has a gift for melody, sometimes gentle, sometimes nagging (in the best way); and a curse in that it is so ingrained in his musical identity that it is hard to escape it.
So the quirky and fun numbers of this plague rat musical shine with character, whether Michael Xavier’s charismatic Hookbeard standing out ‘I Cannot Hear You’ or Cathy Read and Ilan Galkoff’s pretty duet on ‘What Is This That I See?’. And the chirpy antics of Galkoff’s Perry and the older Melbourne Bumblescratch played by Darren Day has a chemistry that translates well onto record, particularly on the cheeky ‘Adorable Me’.
The shift into darker storytelling and moodier music is still one that I’m not sure works entirely well as it could do, particularly as there’s not quite enough variation in the score here, but Jessica Martin shines through whatever she is singing. And overall, Bumblescratch does still feel a piece with considerable potential.