Friday, 18 January 2019
REVIEW: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical - The Lowry Theatre, Salford
Tonight was their 997th performance, which meant also that this team have over the course of their productivity together created 997 original Musicals!! Yes, just in case there is anyone out there who hasn't yet heard of the improvised Musical Theatre troupe phenomenon which is Showstopper! then they do exactly what they say on the tin... using audience suggestions, the team of 5 improvisers create a brand new Musical every performance.
I remember watching them perform in Manchester the last time around with a Musical which was titled - by an audience member - 'Piste Off'. It was of course set on the slopes during the skiing season! However, this evening the troupe were taken down a different route completely as we witnessed a musical set in cheese factory in the south of France unfold, titled, 'Curd It Be Magic?'
The troupe has a large membership and so there could easily be two or more teams out at different venues across the UK at any one time, and the casts are of course completely interchangeable too. Although I most certainly remember at least two of this evening's performers from last time. Using a 6th member of cast who acts as an MC and coordinator they deftly weave their way through the show using audience suggestions on story and Musical theatre genres or composers to 'homage' - or in this case 'fromage'!
Indeed the 5 super-talented improvisers took us ('Allo 'Allo accents and berets notwithstanding!) through this tale of cheesey love singing 'Speechless' (in the style of Lin Manuel Miranda), 'It Could Be Magic' (a la Gary Barlow), 'Crossed The Line' (a superb rendering in the style of Gilbert And Sullivan), and 'Paradise' (was that Lady Gaga I just witnessed??!) - all of these and more were utterly incredible and so seemingly easily parodied whilst making up the tunes, lyrics (and rhymes) as they went along!
Utilising a colour scheme of reds and blacks and props which are nondescript enough to use for any occasion, (tonight the pompoms were troublesome geese in a parody of Mel Brooks' The Producers - they were of course, 'goose-stepping!') and a two-piece band, who are also having to improvise their every note too, and trying to make performer and instrument sync, blend and hit the same note at the same time... just how do they do it??!! - this is pure entertainment with a capital E. Quick-witted, knowledgeable, versatile, but above all, enormously talented. I could easily watch this troupe again and again and never tire of them. If you haven't already seen an improvised Musical - or you think that they repeat the same things over again (they don't!) - then you really must! I take my hat off to every single one of them... genius!
Reviewer - Matthew Dougall
on - 17/1/19