Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has a reputation for excellence, on trial with each performance. With a rotating cast drawn from over twenty professionals, a run on the West End and eleven years at the Fringe under their belts, audiences would be entitled to expect a lot from the Showstoppers. They would not be disappointed.
The show begins with a host introducing our absent ‘producer’, who has phoned up demanding a new, original musical delivered in the next 70 minutes. Sean McCann begins the evening with energy and charisma, and the audience rewards him with a particularly evocative setting: “a caravan park in a Scottish glen, run by a rather odd man and his eccentric father”. As decreed by the audience, the show will be called ‘Breaking Dad’, and incorporate songs in the style of The Lion King, The Sound of Music and We Will Rock You.
Unlike previous shows, which the host has interrupted to prompt the cast into adopting one of the audience’s styles during the next song, in this performance the cast and musicians slip seamlessly into jaw-dropping numbers in the style of The Sound of Music and The Lion King without needing to put the choice into words. The performers seem even more in tune with each other than in previous years; no detail is forgotten, and every chance is grabbed for reincorporation.
The cast pull off the impressive feat of performing a flashback/time-travel show, without a narrator, and keeping the audience more or less on the same page with what stage of the story we’re in. They do lose this a bit at the end, when it’s not clear what has happened, who’s still alive or how old everybody is. The most impressive thing about the Showstoppers is that this doesn’t actually matter.
The audience isn’t here to nit-pick temporal minutiae, we’re here for a good show, and the Showstoppers more than give us that. The musical has an emotional weight spearheaded by Adam Meggido’s outstanding performance. This depth, combined with whip-sharp reincorporation and several high-energy numbers that have the audience clapping and singing along, leaves no doubt that the Showstoppers are still the champions of improvised musical comedy.