Following over 1000 performances, a west end run and an Olivier award, the chaotic phenomenon Showstopper! The Improvised Musical returns to the Edinburgh Fringe for it’s 12th consecutive year.
This is a show that almost needs no introduction. It has solidified itself as a festival improv highlight for the past dozen years and it’s abundantly clear to see why. The skill exhibited by each performer of The Showstoppers is undeniable, the charisma and likeability of the show’s MC is apparent throughout and provides an excellent warm-up for the show, getting every member of the audience prepared for the hilarity and uncontrolled nonsense about to ensue.
Showstopper! is a show that is never the same twice. The premise remains the same, in which a producer is forced to create a musical in 70 minutes, with the help of his ‘expert writing team’, the audience. The audience is given a line-up of settings to choose from, in our show, the setting chosen was backstage at a game show. We were then asked to choose the influences of the musical, resulting in a ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’, ‘Book of Mormon’ and Sondheim-esque cacophony of a musical. While this is a novel idea, it doesn’t present much of a challenge to the performers or band, as musicals all have a bit of a universal sound that kind of groups them all together as musicals, but it’s fun to feel like we’re at the reigns.
The real showstopper of Showstopper! Has to be the incredible live band that accompanies the show. Made up of a pianist/conductor, saxophonist and percussionist, the original music is crammed with intelligent composing and masterful performances from each band member, making it seem no different from a musical accompanied by an entire orchestra.
If I had one real gripe with the show, it’s the gripe that I have with almost all improv shows, is the casual sexism that is somehow presented in them. There’s always a poorly misunderstood male protagonist, an awful but somehow still likeable and hilarious male character and then you have a female protagonist who is always a little bit dim or naturally naive. Although I understand that in a show that is so difficult to write on the spot and the signs of this are, admittedly, very small, I would have hoped that the cast would be intelligent, sensitive and experienced enough to not use cheap gags about gender stereotypes for laughs.
Saying that however, Showstopper! Is a real crowd pleaser and hilarious show, packed with clever quips, catchy songs and talent, this is a show that you should definitely try to catch.