Quick thinking, award winning, and knicker-wettingly funny; the cast of Showstopper never perform the same musical twice. Each night this talented group of all singing, all dancing actors and comedians carefully concoct a brand new musical. Led by both shout outs from the audience and an innovatively interrupting director, the actors flawlessly piece together a performance of comic and musical genius; with the cast having little or no control over the storyline’s direction, the possibilities are limitless. Fuelled by the audiences’ ridiculous suggestions, Exeter’s being a sisterly struggle over a handsome archaeologist set in a deathly-curse and lustful-Arabic-tourist plagued Egyptian tomb, each performance is unlike the one before.
Prompted by a telephone call from the show’s fictional producer at the beginning of each performance, Showstopper director, either Sean McCann or Dylan Emery, ask the excitable audience for a setting, a title, and a number of musical styles. Shouts from the audience determine which direction the performance will take (in Exeter’s case the cry “Yes! Exeter says yes!”), a raucous concept saved from mayhem only by the quick wittedness of the director and the cast. Not even when the shouting is over and the action is underway are the Showstoppers in command of their own musical. Just as the cast get into their stride, somehow turning the audience’s absurd suggestions into a feasible plot, the ingenious director will stand and house lights will come up. With a mischievous grin he will halt the performance, instructing the actors to embellish, rewind, or redo something in the style of, say…Lion King the Musical. After a brief pause for the inevitable giggles, the Showstoppers propel the musical on, never faltering in spite of the undeniable potential to; moments of tension transform into glorious moments of inspired creation.
The Showstoppers didn’t disappoint when they graced our very own Exeter Northcott last week, impressively managing to seamlessly incorporate an ABBA themed wedding, the body of a (questionably) dead explorer, a spaghetti western-esque harem and a religious-proverb spouting camel into an hour and a half of improvised triumph. Complemented by resourceful and imaginative musicians, the award-winning cast’s wit, skill, and wholehearted enthusiasm undoubtedly leaves each member of the audience with a grin on their face and the persistent urge to break into improvised song.
Published in the Arts section of The University of Exeter’s student newspaper, Exeposé, on February 21st 2011.