Friday, December 1

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical – Garrick Theatre

Showstopper did not allow lockdown to stop their creativity, they have continued to produce online improvised shows, in fact North West End UK have reviewed some of these (see our website).  For those who have somehow missed the artistry that is musical improvisation here is a quick summary.  Showstopper use suggestions made by the audience to make up a musical from scratch in front of your eyes.  In a normal musical production, it can take years for a production to make it to the stage, with the services of a lyricist, a composer, producer, director, actors, etc, etc!  Showstopper does all of this in one night – the performers multi-task and roll all of this into one very sleek team.

Ring, ring, the red phone shrills, and we know it’s going to be Cameron asking the Showstopper’s to help him to write a musical in 75 minutes.  And can they do it?   Of course, they can, in their own very special way.

So, with an audience that has been starved of theatre; ‘What do you want?’ The Showstopper’s ask. The reply, to sing in the style of Rocky Horror, Lion King and Hamilton, with a story about out of work actors getting new jobs, but they really cannot help but be theatrical.

Tonight, Showstopper’s improvising magicians were Dylan Emery in a goading role, with Andrew Pugsley, Adam Meggido, Pippa Evans, Ali James and Justin Brett, with musical director Duncan Walsh and percussionist Alex Atty having the difficult task of predicting which way the cast will steer the show and trying to make the music fit around the onstage action.

In one of the only shows that actively encourages you to get your mobile phone out during the show, they created a musical that was named ‘A Change of Direction’, and followed Sir Stanley (Adam Meggido), (who later became Sir Steven), who had been a great classical actor, the finest Lear of his generation!  He had fallen into the depths of despair and chip fat, to work at a McDonald’s drive through and after falling into a depression after serving a fillet of fish and something plain and vanillary, his spirits were raised by an old acquaintance Max, who answered an advert Sir Stanley had put into The Stage. 

Max brought along his friends, Henry and ‘the girl with no name’ (who was later called Matilda Wormwood) and Ange, who had known Sir Stanley in 1973 when something untoward happened between them during a show. Ange cannot forgive him, in her words, ‘I can act with you, but I can’t forgive you’.

During the show we hear such unforgettable lines as ‘not had a sniff of a leotard’ and songs in the style of Six the Musical, Phantom of The Opera and Sondheim which were thrown at the improvisers by their goader (Dylan Emery). 

We end the show be becoming improvisers ourselves as we lift our imaginary ‘pebble of honesty’, and it feels for a moment, that all is well in the world again!

The Showstopper’s quite rightly received a standing ovation from a very grateful appreciative audience who have been without live entertainment for too long.  Albeit, to a smaller socially distanced audience, but the Showstopper’s remain at the top of their game, giving the audience exactly what they want, a night filled with laughter, remarkable musical skills, but most of all, a reminder of what it is like to come together as a group and enjoy being inside a theatre. 

To book tickets to see The Showstopper live or online, go to their website Home – The Showstoppers

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 7th December 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★