Please note, photos included are general Showstopper images, not show specific
What does it take to construct a musical? A storyline, music, lyrics, choreography, set, costumes; all of that and you are only skimming the surface, all of that and there is possibly months and months of work to be done in order to get it all running smoothly. That is, of course, unless you are about to witness an entire musical, plot, songs and all, pieced together in just 2 hours. Madness, I hear you cry, but it’s possible for the team at Showstopper! The improvised musical.
What this team are able to do is nothing short of miraculous. With just 5 cast members, a host/producer and two band members, they are able to put on a show that looks like it could have gone through a lengthy rehearsal period, slick and smooth with storylines in place, choreography seemingly planned to perfection and songs that both fizz with energy and fit to the plot. All made up on the spot from the suggestions of the delighted audience.
Now, this isn’t my first time seeing the Showstopper team in action, in fact, it was my fifth, and that’s not including many of the shows that were live-streamed throughout the pandemic. And every time I find myself amazed at just what they are able to do. This team know each other so well, can read each other and can together form a show that is completely driven by the ideas of the audience who give suggestions for setting, plot points and musical styles. The host, played at this performance by Sean Mccann, also has some control, picking the best suggestions and at time throwing in some ideas of his own purely to mess with the cast (on this occasion mainly messing with Phillip Pellow, making him improvise limericks and all sorts).
For this performance, the setting of a funeral home was chosen and ‘Diggin’ It’ was born. Married couple Mirabel (Ruth Bratt) and Eustace (Ali James) have spent years running Lavender funeral care whilst repressing their emotions and maintaining a constant stiff upper lip. Now they are trying to teach their nephew Jack (new showstopper cast member Martha Pothen) how to hide his emotions at all times, priming him to take over the family business. But throw in a couple of professional funeral crashes (Phillip Pellow and Heather Urquhart) who believe that it is always best to express not repress, and deeply buried secrets bubble to the surface. See, told you that this team could create a complete storyline at the drop of a hat and this was before you even added in the songs inspired by the musical stylings of Meatloaf (think Bat out of Hell), Disney, In the Heights, The Addams Family and ABBA.
Showstopper performances are always crammed full of silliness and comedy, and this was no different. Highlights included Phillip Pellow running around the audience pretending to be an Addam's Family style disembodied hand, a mechanism that really made people turn in their graves, and some questionable dancing around a clock that involved a phantom of the opera style musical monkey.
In conclusion, the showstopper team continue to be at the top of their game, improvising polished slick brand new musicals that enchant and entertain. You are guaranteed to laugh and cheer along, and have a wonderfully fun time.