As the title suggests, Showstoppers! The Improvised Musical is indeed an improvised musical with the setting, genre and characters decided by the audience then and there! With the promise that there are no audience plants, the cast and live band are tasked with composing music and a storyline on the spot.
Undoubtedly, the musicians and actors alike are extremely talented. Their ability to work together, listen to each other and create beautiful, complete songs is incredible. Songs aren’t the only thing they’re able to compose. A Hamilton-style rap and Shakespearean-style sonnet in iambic pentameter, made up as they speak, showcase just how skilled they are at poetry, inventing lyrics that might take the rest of us mere mortals years to come up with. Similarly, they’re able to devise a hilarious story with a complete finale – even if a few artistic liberties are taken. It is testament to their professionalism and years of work put into honing their craft. And it proves even more that no, we couldn’t give this a go in our living rooms.
A narrator-cum-guitarist helps set up the play with ideas from the audience for the actors to then build a story along. He also ensures that the actors don’t enjoy themselves too much, interjecting occasional scenes to include stage directions such as ‘be more Australian’, just to make sure that the storyline progresses, and the audience get their money’s worth in giggles. They utilise the interval to give audience members the chance to tweet in ideas for the second act, proving that this isn’t rehearsed. Everyone is given the chance to build their own storyline, creating a wonderful relationship with the actors and really making the audience feel a part of the play. Don’t worry if you don’t have ideas, though: everyone else is creative enough on your behalf so you can sit back and enjoy the chaos developing.
The only downside is that the incredibly catchy songs aren’t available for you to play on repeat on your journey home. You’re left with just some fragments of your memory and your lack of talent trying to piece together a tune! Similarly, attempting to describe the absurd story that unfolds to friends and family is just impossible, and you’ll think you’ve dreamt your whole evening.
The Showstopper company has been improvising musicals since 2008, with a rolling cast of performers, and their years of hard work show clearly on the stage. Only a certain type of cynic would struggle to enjoy this show, but the cast even promise that if you didn’t like it, you can go again and it’ll then be completely different!
Produced, directed and Co-created by: Dylan Emery, Adam Meggido
Produced by: Keith Strachan, Suzanna Rosenthal for Something for the Weekend
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical plays at Cambridge Theatre on various Monday’s throughout 2023. Dates and bookings can be found here.