Showstopper! The Improvised Musical Review

Grand Opera House York Thursday 15th March 2018. Reviewed by Michelle Richardson

5*****

After 10 years at the Edinburgh Fringe, a radio series, a West End run and an Oliver award under their belt, the Showstopper company bought their fantastic improvised show to the Grand Opera house on Thursday night. A new musical is promised each night, with the performers making it all up on the spot, so no two performances will ever be the same.

We, the audience, were encouraged to throw some ideas around after the narrator, Sean McCann, receives a phone call from “Cameron”. With arms up in the air, the audience comes out with locality suggestions ranging from The Vatican to a little bar in the West Midlands. The ancient city of Pompeii is ultimately chosen after receiving the biggest cheer. Other ideas, scenarios and musical styles are then thrown about, then we waited to see what happens.

After naming the new musical I Wish I’d Left Earlier, Andrea’s suggestion, the group of 5 actors, accompanied by 3 musicians, took to the stage, with McCann keeping the show on track and prompting new ideas, bring our musical to life. So, we were treated to “funk”, “falsetto”, “Rogers & Hammerstein”, “Cats”, “Rigoletto”, “Rocky Horror Show” (my personal favourite), plus several other influences, all in the one musical.

This was the story of Pompeii, telling you the story in a different way. What ensued was an hilarious story of Fred, the Collector of Sticks, Maximus, with his writings of Wine and Olives, 1, 2 and 3, Tiberius, Jacinta and her father, the 97 year old cleaner of sticks. With Mount Vesuvius and that little pub somewhere in the West Midlands thrown in, it made for a bizarre and fascinating tale.

The whole performance was slick and so very clever, with the cast, from actors, musicians and McCann, superb from the get go. No matter what was thrown at them they delivered, and their knowledge of musical theatre and musical styles was vast, and those brummie accents and Brew XI were the icing on the cake. There was never a dull moment with such talent on stage, improvising as they went along, never missing a beat, they all looked like they were having a blast.

It was bonkers, hilarious, so very funny and I would love to see another one, to find out where that journey would take me. Definitely not to be missed.

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