(Image: On Fife)
Last Saturday I went to see a company called The Showstoppers improvise a musical at the Warwick Arts Centre. How is that possible?! I hear you ask. I thought the same thing before I saw it which is exactly why we booked tickets in the first place. But, I can assure you, it works. The company has been performing together since 2008 and the goal is to create a musical each night purely based on the suggestions of the audience. This means, of course, that no two performances of the company's are the same, which has sparked conspiracy theories amongst sceptical audience members suggesting that they have fifty rehearsed musicals on rotation and such. However, the night I saw it a lady behind me said at the end, "That was so different from last time!" so they obviously don't keep repeating the shows!
So, we sat down not really knowing what to expect. A man came out in the role of a director and asked us different things about that night's musical such as where we thought it should be set and what kind of music should be in it. The audience voted that the show would be called That Sinking Feeling and it would be set in Atlantis with music in the style of Danny Elfman, Puccini, Avenue Q and the Spice Girls. A very eclectic mix that would surely be impossible to base a musical on! He wrote all of these up on a board and then the show began.
At the end of the opening song, I was sitting there absolutely gobsmacked. How on earth had the actors just performed an entire song about Atlantis, complete with harmonies and dancing and no rehearsal? The rest of the show continued in the same way, i.e. with me being completely astounded at how they were pulling it off. It was really funny as well, we could see the musicians sitting at the side laughing as it was obviously their first time seeing this particular performance as well. Speaking of the musicians, they were equally impressive with how they were able to keep up and fit in with the actors' improvised songs; I think you'd have to be a really good musician to be able to do that. It was a little blue in places to perhaps not ideal for small children or easily offended grandparents but great for everyone else! They did a great job at incorporating all of the musical styles we had suggested into the show; I noticed at the end that the director had been ticking them off on the board throughout to make sure they had covered everything.
I was just so impressed with the performance and its very high standard considering that the cast had had absolutely no rehearsal. It was a shame because it was a really small audience the night I went, probably because it's a fringe show and not many people have heard of it. However, if you do get the chance to see it I would definitely recommend it as it makes for a really fun night out.