Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Settling into my seat, with the blank canvas that is the Showstopper stage in front of me and the energetic 3-piece band playing an upbeat medley, the air of excitement in the audience is palpable for this acclaimed play, now entering its tenth Edinburgh Fringe. Showstopper successfully lives up to the hype, providing an exemplar hour of improvisation, expertly using music and dance to create a new musical.

From the Curry’s shop floor on Black Friday, to the newsroom of the Guardian, no location is too fantastical for the cast of Showstopper. Having taken suggestions from the audience for a setting, and a subsequent vote, the location for our musical is decided. The second major audience decision is to suggest musicals for the Showstopper team to pay homage to. The cast and supremely versatile band then write new songs, based on these suggestions and incorporate them into the setting.

Showstopper’s success is due to the colossal talent of all participants involved. In particular, the effortlessly funny cast with lightning fast wits ably elicit laughs from the most unexpected situations. The versatile, ambiguous set pieces are also utilised smartly to add humour to every scene. The strong vocal performances and snappy choreography, show the production values of this performance are high. With the producer constantly creating new hurdles for the cast, it is a sign of their talent that they can navigate them all with such deftness.

Unfortunately, the musical homages can be a little strained. Themes of some of the incorporated musicals are sometimes unclear. It would be interesting to see the troupe include actual songs (if copyright was not an issue) as it sometimes took a lot of imagination to divine how a particular number paid tribute to a famous musical.

The consistently talented cast, stunningly adept multi-instrumentalists and hilarious plotlines come together in harmony to create a truly incredible performance. Showstopper is a gem of improvisation that can honestly claim to be entirely different every night, an enormous feat and one that few similar plays live up to.

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Jonathan Barnett

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