Musical Theatre Needs an Audience

Staff Reporter (30 August, 2020)

Hats off to the ‘Showstoppers Totally Improvised Musical’ team for embracing innovation and producing safe, socially distanced live entertainment for the Covid era. Having enjoyed many of the live-streamed theatre offerings of the past few months I was intrigued to see how an improvised musical might work. This extremely talented team have specialised in audience-led ...

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Hats off to the ‘Showstoppers Totally Improvised Musical’ team for embracing innovation and producing safe, socially distanced live entertainment for the Covid era. Having enjoyed many of the live-streamed theatre offerings of the past few months I was intrigued to see how an improvised musical might work. This extremely talented team have specialised in audience-led performance to rave reviews and awards, from selling out the Edinburgh fringe, to spots on national radio, writes Katie Kelly.

Audience participation was enabled through the comments facility on the livestream. I ‘arrived’ a few minutes early, unhindered on this occasion by my rather tardy better half, one of the few benefits of lockdown living. There was an impressive buzz of building anticipation as we waited for ‘curtain up’

The audience were asked to suggest possible locations and favourite musicals at the beginning and then as the show went on continued to ‘shout out’ suggestions for plot twists and song styles. There was even a competition to name the show, for which the prize was a cd of Showstoppers’ music.

The improvisation is an undeniably impressive feat; the cast was talented and the tech people had done a good job of blending the shots so that from their socially distanced Perspex booths they appeared to be standing together. If you are huge fan of musicals that might sustain the interest. It feels a bit like kicking a puppy to criticise any theatrical effort at the moment, but in the end I concluded, sadly, that this kind of game needs the energy of fellow audience members to thrive, otherwise it risks being just impressive, like a three year old who can speak 5 languages. Clever, but to what end? In a nod to Hamilton the show, which featured time-travelling in a hot air balloon, was called  “the balloon where it happens”.

These guys are worth seeing in action but personally I would wait until I could be in ‘the room where it happens’.

Tickets are £9.50, Concessions: £6’.50 plus booking fees

To book tickets please visit Eventbrite at
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/showstopper-the-socially-distanced-improvised-musical-tickets-116417683425

Main image: Hugo Glendinning

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