I’ve never been quite as excited to see a show as I was before seeing Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at London’s Udderbelly Festival. I couldn’t, and still can’t, imagine a combination more perfect than improv and showtunes.
As the show started, the audience were asked to decide on a location and an activity. What were our characters doing and where? A remarkably simple question. After suggestions of beaches, bars in Shanghai, a UKIP conference and an incredibly specific “Stonehenge at dusk on a midsummer’s day”, we eventually came to our winner: the kitchens at Buckingham Palace. As for the activity? Preparing a turducken (a chicken inside a duck, inside a turkey) inside a swan. A swurducken, perhaps.
From here, the story of the swurducken developed into a tale of cannibalism, orphans, mass-murder, fratricide and incest; that did in fact manage to incorporate a UKIP conference – held at Stonehenge (at dusk on a midsummer’s day, of course). And frankly, it turned out to be one of the most hilarious and brilliant shows I’ve seen in a long time.
The work these performers do is simply incredible. Their quick-wit, teamwork and pure talent makes Showstopper! an amazingly enjoyable night out. The other suggestions taken from the audience are based around the song choices, and the show I saw included music in the style of both Avenue Q and Viva Forever, as well as many others.
That being said, you don’t need to know the West End inside out to enjoy Showstopper! and I’m sure audiences with little to no knowledge of musical theatre would still appreciate the humour and talent on the stage before them. I imagine anyone would be impressed by a group of six actors who create characters, plots, and lyrics on the spot, prompted only by those who can shout their ideas the loudest.
The cast of Showstopper! are nothing short of extraordinary and I can’t praise them enough. Although the overall company hosts a cast of around twenty, teams of six actors take part in individual shows and the chemistry between them is clear from the second they start. Trust and understanding is vital in improvisation pieces, and it’s clear that The Showstoppers work hard to build the relationships that allow their cast to bounce off each other and build on each other’s words. It’s quite a magnificent thing to behold.
Overall, I would recommend Showstopper! to anybody and everybody. Of course, there’s the beautiful idea that you’re never going to pay to see the same show twice, and yet you know you’re guaranteed a great show and a fantastic display of talent. After all, you might get a gem like ‘Tuck In Ham Palace’, or you may find something even better. And if your show is anything like mine, you’ll be singing bizarre made up songs long after you leave the show behind.