Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at Garrick Theatre
After months of on-screen shows, there is arguably no better way to enjoy live theatre again than to witness the exciting dynamics of an improvised performance. Showstopper! is the exhilarating result of many years’ work by a group of actors so well-tuned and in harmony that they can make a totally ad-libbed play seem planned and rehearsed. Adam Meggido, who co-created the production with Dylan Emery, once stated that nothing is pre-arranged. It is much easier for the troupe to genuinely extemporise than try to make any prepared material fit into the prompts given on the night.
After over a decade of one-off musicals and a few lockdown live streams, the production can now be enjoyed at the West End’s Garrick Theatre. Emery is the on-stage director guiding the show to communicate the audience’s input, while the cast is formed by Meggido himself, Pippa Evans, Andrew Pugsley, Ali James and Justin Brett. The fact that this is not an ordinary performance is apparent from the very start. Rather than being told to switch off all phones, observers are encouraged to text and tweet plot and setting suggestions throughout. Spectators can send ideas as they arise, making Showstopper! very dynamic and taking viewer intervention to a new level.
On press night, the storyline submitted by the crowd involved a group of out-of-work actors forced to find alternative jobs to pay the bills. Unable to leave their stage personas behind, they perform their way through their shifts at McDonald’s or the nail salon. The plot thickens as the relationships between the thespians are revealed. There are friendships, rivalries, a budding romance and long-standing resentments that give the off-the-cuff narrative a more defined structure. Aside from scenarios, the audience can also request musical themes they would like to see incorporated. One can expect the drums to suddenly introduce a song in the style of The Lion King, or the actors to break out into a rap à la Hamilton.
Fun and joyous, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is a fine display of talent and the perfect reminder of how enjoyable live theatre can be.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is at Garrick Theatre from 7th December until 22nd March 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.