All the world's a stage, for everyone, but particularly for actresses and actors. The cast of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has taken the quote quite literally, using everyday pavements, shopping centres, the restricted numbers of sites where meetings are allowed during the Covid-era, as the privileged spaces of thespian performance. The script is trailblazing and life-inspiring, brought together and fine-tuned by the minds of a Sir, better, a Knight for service to the theatre and four of his most brilliant ex-students, now jobless actors. This is a current story, about the arts world, interpreted in high spirits and with flowing musical notes.
The only downside? Is that none of the readers here will be able to see it again. The good news? Is that whatever will be the plot next time, an exciting dose of fun and engaging musical medley will be guaranteed all the same.
Every Monday, until March of next year, Garrick Theatre will host the gang of Showstopper! for one hour and a half of improvisation, totally based on the suggestions coming from the audience of the night. That’s how, therefore, the novelty is kept alive and differentiated. The theatregoers are invited, upon confirmation of the booking, to start sending ideas via Twitter or text. A first-round of decision making is set right at the beginning of the show, when the chair Dylan Emery, who can barely keep the laughs just by scrolling the feed of prompts, picks up the main narrative thread. Around three musicals for the genre are then also sorted out. These latest range from old classics, such as The Rocky Horror Show, to modern hits, like Hamilton. From time to time, more guided hints are requested to the audience during the play, to answer to some twists or simply to find a title.
Be warned: midway, the plot feels a bit patched and the musical tropes are not much imaginative. However, the energy of the performers is so infectious that those moments fleet away pretty swiftly.
On the press night, we had a bit of Phantom of the Opera and of Six: the highly recognizable songs have been altered just the good amount still to sound similar, but aptly rhyming within the new context of the makeshift production. There is an undeniably chemistry on stage that manages to fill up nicely even the little chuckles here and there and the very few empty pauses. Also, with the marked teamwork built, every character is well defined. Justin Brett stands out as the most amusing, even only for appearing on the front, with all his mimicry. Adam Meggido is a master of interchangeable expressions, while Pippa Evans’ powerful voice dazzles.
A fun show carried out by impressively responsive actors: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical makes for a delightful entertaining night at the theatre.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is at the Garrick Theatre for six Mondays on 7 December 2020, 11 January, 8 & 22 February, 8 & 22 March 2021
Review: Cristiana Ferrauti Photo: Hugo Glendinning