The Showstopper gang have had a busy time of it in lockdown (including their Alternative Eurovision and an online musical improv), and now they are back for a residency at the Garrick Theatre on Monday nights.
None of their verve and invention has been blunted despite a long period away from live audiences, and the atmosphere was buzzing as we wondered quite what to expect this time. Where would tonight’s original improvised musical be set? What songs would become our brief new ear-worms?
The new show, entitled A Change of Direction, turned out to be about out of work actors, doing stagey things in mundane jobs. We found “the finest Lear of our generation” flipping burgers with thinly-disguised Callowish distain.
A motley crew of sidekicks on respite from the stage push forward the plot in the style of Rocky Horror, The Lion King, Six, Phantom, Hamilton, Sondheim and more. While Ange (a Maxine Peake clone from the school of Northern realism) finds her knight, shellac nail tech Matilda flowers despite no-one remembering her name.
In a dark, ruined theatre … in the middle of the night … what crazed plot does Britain’s finest night have in store? (See, this improv lark is catching). By the time we, the audience, are clutching imaginary pebbles from Brighton beach and waving them aloft, I don’t think anyone cares.
This time suggestions were sought via tweets and texts before and during (!) the show, including plot twists (“one audience member has demanded something Canadian”), musical styles, and locations.
The Showstopper! team are used to quick thinking and improvisation, crafting a more-than-competent musical comedy in just 75 minutes. With five performers, one chair/moderator, and two musicians, they can deal with most of what is thrown at them.
References to Chernobyl and North Korea get thrown in with a definite touch of drama. Big musicals and composers are gently lampooned, but the songs created on the hoof for “one night only” are cleverly crafted by the team.
The cast rotates but tonight’s bows go to Dylan Emery (chair), and cast Andrew Pugsley, Adam Meggido, Pippa Evans, Ali James, and Justin Brett. The music is ably provided by Duncan Walsh Atkins (MD and keys) and Alex Atty (percussion and drums) plus Emery on occasional guitar.
You can book your place to experience a brand-new musical for one night only, at https://www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/showstopper-the-improvised-musical/. Seats at the Garrick are socially-distanced and masks are required to be worn throughout.
LouReviews received complimentary tickets to review Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.