Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★
Putting together a one hour musical in front of your eyes is no mean feat, and Showstopper! manages to do it every night with fantastic results. I can’t help but compare them to Baby Wants Candy, another improvisation musical theatre group I saw the previous evening, but hopefully the comparison will be useful.
It all starts with a phone call from a producer. He wants a new musical, ASAP. Our master of ceremonies then polls the crowd to gather “ingredients” for the show he needs to invent. People shout out the title, subject matter, musical style, etc. He writes all these on a whiteboard and the fun begins. The night I attended they conjured up a musical called ‘Driller’, about an international dentists’ convention, with musical inspiration from Sweeney Todd, Phantom, West Side Story, Once and even Lego. In no time, the ensemble was singing away, creating characters and a scene before our eyes.
One of the main differences with Baby Wants Candy is that while the Showstopper! troupe is in the middle of a scene, the MC will suddenly interrupt and add a new direction or idea to the mix, sometimes from the whiteboard and sometimes asking the audience what should happen next. It’s a more interactive method, but some of the thrill is gone when you know there’s someone there to guide proceedings. The MC frequently drops in to suggest musical styles for a new song, a new plot direction, even to throw a spanner in the works and make things tricky for the improvisers. The Showstopper! gang also has on hand lots of quirky props and set pieces which they roll around. The troupe members are all in great voice and keep the show humming for its hour length.
All in all it’s a bigger production than the bare bones Baby Wants Candy. If you want your musical improv austere and done without a net, Baby Wants Candy is more for you. If a more polished and safer experience is your cup of tea, Showstopper! is sure to please.
Showstoppers – Something for the Weekend