I love improv shows but I hate reviewing them; the best improv is incredibly difficult to review because each performance is so wildly different, but I’ll give it my best whack. Showstoppers’ improvised musical aptly named Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, is a real delight. The Showstoppers are a constantly changing cast, with 17 performers in the troupe, and up to seven appearing in each show. Marking its 1000th performance since their start in 2008, Showstopper! has come a long way since its birth at the Hen and Chickens Theatre.
The musical is put together – like any good improv show – through audience suggestions. For their 1000th show, we were treated to Cream of Yorkshire, set in a Yorkshire soup kitchen in 1882. The musical stylings, amongst others, featured Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and The Producers.
It shouldn’t work, but it does, and it does so spectacularly. The cast are so well attuned with each other (pun intended) that even in moments where things fall slightly out of key, as is inevitable at any improv show, the harmony (last one, I promise) between them is unmistakable.
The numbers are fabulous, I found myself wishing I was able to find a cast recording for a number of them for later listening. The characters are so well-rounded and fleshed out; it is such a great experience watching them come to life before our eyes.
And let’s not forget about the musicians. They effortlessly provide the backbone of the show, seamlessly floating from genre to genre and providing a poignant and emotional underscore.
Also, can we just take a moment to really appreciate Gabriella Slade’s costume design? The red, black, white and grey colour palette is a fantastic uniform, lending individuality to each performer but giving the whole troupe a very solid identity.
Showstopper! is a real team effort and it comes as no surprise that some audience members have seen the show upwards of 80 times. Yet, even at that many visits, you could still only experience 8% of what The Showstoppers have to offer. If I had an unlimited supply of money I would be at this show every single night, and I doubt I would ever be bored. If anyone is planning on going and has a spare ticket, please hit me up, because I’ll happily provide company for the evening.
Showstopper! is playing until 16 March. For more information and tickets, visit The Other Palace website.