Royal & Derngate will present An Improbable Musical as part of its Made in Northampton 2021/22 season. With a brand-new show created at each performance, An Improbable Musical sees world renowned theatre company Improbable take to the Royal stage in Northampton from Friday 25 February to Saturday 5 March, ahead of an autumn tour.
Their cast of seasoned improvisers includes Josie Lawrence (Whose Line Is It Anyway; Good Omens, Amazon/BBC; The King and I, London Palladium), Janet Etuk (Satyagraha, English National Opera), Niall Ashdown (Tristan and Yseult, Kneehigh), Ruth Bratt (Showstopper! The Improvised Musical) and Adam Courting (Extreme Improv), along with versatile musicians Max Gittings on flute, Joley Cragg on percussion and Juliet Colyer on cello. The production is directed by co-artistic director of Improbable Lee Simpson (70 Hill Lane, Lifegame, Theatre of Blood, Comedy Store Players) and the associate director is Angela Clerkin (Moll and the Future Kings, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse).
Some of the best bits of any show are the parts that audiences never get to see – beautiful moments of discovery, fresh minted gags, a story coming alive for the first time – all of this traditionally happens in the rehearsal room. With this new production, maestros of improvised theatre Improbable let audiences in on those moments by improvising from scratch a new show made especially for the room that night. Story, song and puppetry will be conjured from the unlikeliest materials and every moment of creation (or lack of it) witnessed. This is not an attempt to improvise the “classic” musical but an unapologetic experiment in starting with nothing and seeing where the night ends.
For three decades Improbable have created improvised shows that have captivated audiences across the world from off-Broadway to the National Theatre. Their productions have ranged from the hilarious to the heart-breaking, the anarchic to the eerily atmospheric but their first ever improvised musical aims to spin theatrical magic out of thin air.
Lee Simpson, co-artistic director of Improbable said: “Improv has come of age. There are very successful make-it-up-as-you-go-along shows. Most often they take a genre we know and love and give us their improvised version. The best of these are brilliant. We love them.
An Improbable Musical is a little bit different. Because the “frame” for the show is not a genre, it’s just what is in the theatre: a skeletal tower of stairs, puppets, musicians, actors and the audience. This is theatre made out of listening: performers and musicians listen to each other, to the audience, to the dreams swirling around the auditorium and from that they find the next moment of the show. A bit more listening in the world is worth a try, right?”
The show is designed by E Mallin Parry (Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe; Rotterdam. West End). The musical devisor and director is Christopher Ash (Austentatious and Mischief Movie Night, West End) and the puppet designer and director is Aya Nakamura (collaborator with Horse+Bamboo and Theatre-Rites), and both will also be part of the cast.
Lighting design is by Colin Grenfell (Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) and Black Watch West End), sound design by Oscar Thompson (Rob Brydon Songs and Stories, UK Tour) and Will Thompson (Salome, Southwark Playhouse), and movement direction by Pauline Mayers (What I Told You, UK tour).
The production has been developed as part of a five-year project which has seen Royal & Derngate lead a national consortium of partners to support 150 artists in nurturing the creation of new musical theatre.
An Improbable Musical can be seen at Royal & Derngate, Northampton from Friday 25 February to Saturday 5 March. Tickets can be booked by calling Box Office on 01604 624811 or online at www.royalandderngate.co.uk.