There's truly nothing quite like it, and the theatrical masterclass they present knows no bounds: Showstoppers! The Improvised Musical may be one of the most impressive performances you'll ever witness. Taking up a fortnightly residency at the Cambridge Theatre, their epic, freshly created performances turn audience suggestions into reality right before your eyes.
The incredible feat of artistry begins with a phone call to a writer (played by Dylan Emery) who has been asked to propose a new concept for a musical. While immediately swooping in with the audience engagement, he asks anyone with brewing ideas to raise their hands, and the one with the biggest cheer will be the setting for the forthcoming two hours ahead - ours happened to be the Central Line no less, with the Chelsea Flower Show becoming a reoccurring theme too, though it could be literally anywhere!
Next, some styles of song were needed, so Cole Porter, Oklahoma, Tim Minchin and Avenue Q became the starting line up, with more added later on. The resemblance when using these themes for completely impromptu, often tube related tracks was uncanny, demonstrating the phenomenal talent and knowledge of style, genre and composition from each cast member. Given the sublime name of 'Scarlet Fever', the pitch begins, with further audience interaction at moments throughout, and being asked to Tweet their thoughts during the interval too.
You may wonder how there is much longevity of a plot in a Central Line carriage (and the perfectly matching red costumes featured), but the hilariously ingenious minds on stage take the concept and run with it: Lauren Shearing and Adam Meggido take on the roles of two strangers meeting on the 7:42 train, and, following several awkward interactions, seem to have a liking for one another, and a budding romance may be formed. However (as a name shouted out upon request), Adam's character was married to the celebrity, Rosie O'Donnell - played here by Ruth Bratt - and pending a divorce. As other members of the company, Justin Brett and Andrew Pugsley largely take on a range of characters, as they all do when necessary.
A little bending of perception must occur with the improvisation: for example, jumping onto a moving tube, having an Aussie boss (one of Pippa Evans' many forms) who brings their kangaroos to work (a very creative use of prop baseball bats) or even bringing an entire table and chairs set onto the train, not to mention Justin's beautiful window that made it too, a total highlight when explained!
Although the piece goes without spoilers due to its uniqueness, it also means that all commendation goes towards the company and band on stage for being able to generate their performances. While some minor elements are not as slick as scripted shows, due to the obvious improvisation, this just brings more life into it, as it's a joy to watch the actors laugh it off when a joke lands unexpectedly off the scale. A Shakespearean style poem by Adam near the end of act 2 was so faultlessly executed, when astonishingly he managed to finish on a cracking line using the title phrase. Additionally, the skill taken when thrown on the spot to have full lyrics and matching choreography for multiple people at once is huge, appears to happen like mind reading! Every line looked effortless and confident, and there were many songs that proved there could literally be one for anything. Each were a highlight independently really, but a slightly gay love song after various Tinder dates, in the style of Sondheim, briefly featuring an iconic window accompaniment was great, as was an incredibly impressive Hamilton-esque rap from Lauren that was immensely popular, and rightly so. The comedic timing is consistently unmatched, with a string of innuendos to end the show, the Showstoppers are just that, ensuring you simply want more.
Being quick witted beyond belief, this is absolutely a production everyone must see, and are guaranteed to enjoy; many likely to leave happily attending again and again in the future, and different every time! You'll be certain to leave in amazement, as you wonder how on earth the last two hours were fathomed. Even if you think it's not your thing, it is. Pure genius.