Tuesday, June 18

The Showstoppers (Socially Distanced) Improvised Musical

In this bizarre new world that we find ourselves in artists are being creative in finding a new way to perform to give the gift of entertainment to their audience.  The Showstoppers have been busy trying to keep going with such great shows as the ‘Alternative Eurovision Song Contest’ which saw The Showstoppers and guests represent a country, in a battle to win the Eurovision crown. 

In a bid to move their show from online into more of a studio environment where they could all at least be in the same room albeit socially distanced and shielded behind plastic screens; The Showstoppers got together to do what they do best – improvise a musical.

Tonight, the Showstopper team were Ruth Bratt, Adam Meggido, Justin Brett and Ali James, with Andrew Pugsley introducing and acting as a goader, Duncan Walsh Atkins as Musical Director and Alex Atty Freeman on percussion. 

For those who have not been to a Showstopper show, the group perform a musical, but at the beginning of the show, they do not know what the musical is, they must improvise.  They take suggestions from the audience for the theme of the show, the style of musical (such as Hamilton, etc), and a title for the show.  During the musical, the goader (Andrew Pugsley) interjects with more suggestions taken from the audience to change the direction of the musical, just to mix things up a bit.

Tonight, the musical was about a bookshop.  Ali James plays Marigold who is married to Desmond (Justin Brett) who has been gravely ill but is making a recovery.  Marigold appears to have lived her life in her bookshop and the highlight of her week is when she gets a visit from Frank (Adam Meggido) who is writing a thesis and needs to pick up a book called ‘Haunted House on the Hill’.  This leads them to starting a book club.  They are to meet each Wednesday at 3pm and attendees will be Marigold (James), Katherine (Bratt), Desmond (Brett) and Frank (Meggido).  The tale takes a turn down a dark passage which has been mysteriously found in the bookshop and love blossoms between Frank and Marigold and cupid also takes a shot at Katherine and Desmond. 

During the show Pugsley throws in the audience suggestions which are being fed via live chat and the musical styles used were Hamilton, Gilbert and Sullivan, Dear Evan Hansen, Phantom of the Opera and Beetlejuice the Musical.  As usual the performance is accompanied by the musical magician Walsh Atkins and ably supported by Freeman, who help to make the whole experience a joy to watch. 

The Showstoppers have shown resilience during this pandemic, not allowing the situation to put them off performing and have strived to find a way.  I applaud their tenacity and hope that they will continue to lead the way and dazzle us with their impressive skills.

Coming up soon The Showstoppers are appearing for two nights (14th and 15th August) at The New Normal Festival which is being held in London.  I am sure they will relish the opportunity to appear in front of a live audience once again without the digital jiggery-pokery needed to put on their online show.  To book tickets to see The Showstoppers at the festival go to https://newnormalfest.co.uk/whats-on

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 23rd July 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★