Review: Busker The Musical's world premiere at Harrogate Theatre

A scene from Busker the Musical at Harrogate Theatre.
A scene from Busker the Musical at Harrogate Theatre.

Keith Humphrey’s brand new musical, Busker, is as powerful and uplifting in parts, as it is moving and heartbreaking in others, writes Jane Wright.

It tells the tale of a boy, Alek Rosa, who at 13, wakes up one morning to find his childhood, and life as he knows it, has been taken from him.

Without his parents, Busker, the nickname name affectionately given to Alek by his mother, ricochets from care home to foster carer and ultimately a life on the streets.

Following on from his critically acclaimed first musical, Boiling Frog, which completed its run four years ago to standing ovations, the natural progression for Humphrey is an absorbing story which serves to remind us all of the fragility of life.

Brilliantly directed by Louise Denison with musical direction by Jim Lunt, the pair have crafted a production which brings Humphrey’s characters to life and draws the audience into a story of tragedy, love, hope and justice.

There are many notable performances. Both young Alek played by Frankie Bounds and adult Alex (Edward Leigh) convincingly portray the vulnerability of the situations Busker finds himself in.

Scenes which combine their stage presence successfully build a sense of foreboding. This clever amalgamation between the future and the present and then the past and the present culminate in an extremely effective nightmare scene. Stirring stuff.

Young and adult Emily (Katy Metheringham and Charlotte McCamley) give their male counterparts a run for their money and could even be the show stealers, consistently delivering powerful vocals and skilfully nuanced character portrayals.

Humour is provided by the brilliantly paired Polski (David Ault) and Julian (Luke Wilby) and if the kids company are a modern day Fagin’s Gang then Travis (Howard Corrin) is Busker’s Bill Sykes.

The parts of Busker’s Polish parents Arleta (Toni Woods) and Oskar (Adam Sowter) are equally well matched.

The show builds to a gripping conclusion with an interrogation scene, featuring Travis, Elaine (Lucy Evans), Jen (Lucy Mizen) and Chris (Mark Edwards) conveying tension, regret and sadness in equal measure.

Busker the Musical runs until Saturday, June 25. Tickets are available at 01423 502116 or www.harrogatetheatre.co.u