REVIEW: Showstopper! The (Socially Distanced!) Improvised Musical

The sky is the limit for The Showstoppers in a brilliantly lively improvised and socially distanced musical.

(c)Hugo Glendinning

Allowing the audience to take control of any show could be a potential risk – but in the case of The Showstoppers it really works in their favour as plot lines and songs become increasingly fantastical as this socially distanced improvised musical proves.

Titled ‘In the Balloon Where it Happens’ (yes that is a reference to Hamilton), this time travelling hot air balloon adventure is filled with plenty of laughs, ideas, brilliant characterisations as well as songs inspired by famous musicals.

Although perhaps given the nature of the show which so much depends on audience interaction, it doesn’t feel as engaging as it could do despite audience ideas still flooding in via messages there is still much to be enjoyed and appreciated when it comes to the way in which the show unfolds.

Hosted by Andrew Pugsley, the story itself despite including some over the top ideas has a surprising amount of poignancy as two couples, Lilian and Mori and Suzanne and Maurice reflect on their lives which then leads to them travelling back in time to try and change how their lives turned out. Given that the cast have no knowledge of what is going to happen, they adapt to every changing idea extremely well, while also performing songs that are completely unique – it really is an impressive amount of skill on display.

While there is no real staging to speak of (the cast are all kept in their own little booth to perform), there are still some nice touches – such as the holding up of exit signs to show that a character has left and the little changes in costume such as hats to add extra detail.

The sheer joy and enthusiasm that everyone has involved in making this is clear to see, showing a real respect for musicals, by incorporating styles of music used in Hamilton, Les Miserables and The Boyfriend for example in impressive ways – performed at a literal moments notice by musicians Alex Atty and Duncan Walsh Atkins.

Perhaps some of the energy in the show does begin to run out towards the end by focusing too much on certain ideas – but there is no doubting just how committed the cast were in sticking to the story wherever it led. Formed of Adam Meggido, Pippa Evans, Ruth Bratt and Justin Brett, the cast work seamlessly together to create a fun-filled two hours entertainment.

Overall, if you are in need of a giggle and a theatre fix, it is reassuring to see that The Showstoppers are more than capable of filling the void in a unique and entertaining way.

By Emma Clarendon

The Showstoppers will be performing as part of The Turbine on the Jetty on the 17th September.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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