REVIEW: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical – Lyceum Theatre – Sheffield


I had the pleasure of attending Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the Lyceum in Sheffield, and it was an absolute delight from start to finish. The cast, consisting of Jonathan Ainscough, Ruth Bratt, Adam Meggido, Philip Pellew, Susan Harrison, and Dylan Emery as The Writer, delivered exceptional performances that left the audience in awe of their improvisational skills and talent.

Before the show even began, there was an electric atmosphere in the theatre. The anticipation was palpable as the audience eagerly awaited the magic that was about to unfold on stage. It was a mix of excited chatter, laughter, and whispers of anticipation as people settled into their seats, unsure of what to expect but ready to be entertained.

As the lights dimmed and the performance began, I found myself completely captivated by the cast’s ability to create a fully improvised musical from scratch. The minimalistic set design was a stroke of genius, allowing the performers to transform any location or setting with their imagination and creativity. It was truly remarkable to witness how they effortlessly brought different worlds to life, whether it was a haunted castle or a funeral parlour.

In our particular production, the audience had the opportunity to choose the music, setting, and theme for the improvised musical. We were presented with options from iconic shows/artists such as Tina Turner, Legally Blonde, Guys and Dolls, and Avenue Q. The chosen setting was Digbeth town hall, and the theme revolved around the concept of speed dating. It was fascinating to see how the cast seamlessly incorporated these elements into their improvised narrative, crafting a one-of-a-kind musical experience tailored to our choices.

The improvisational aspect of the musical was nothing short of impressive. The performers flawlessly weaved audience suggestions into the storyline, altering characterisations on the fly and embracing the unexpected twists and turns that came their way. It was a joy to witness their quick thinking, sharp wit, and ability to think on their feet. The spontaneity of their performances created an electric energy on stage that was infectious, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what would happen next.

There were several standout moments and memorable songs throughout the performance. One particular highlight was a Sweeney Todd-style song that showcased the cast’s impressive vocal talents and ability to create harmonies on the spot. The opening and reprise songs were also strong and set the tone for the musical. Each musical number was a testament to the cast’s musicality and their ability to craft catchy melodies and clever lyrics in the moment.

The audience response to the improvised musical was phenomenal. Laughter filled the theatre as the cast delivered witty one-liners, hilarious character interactions, and unexpected plot developments. It was evident that the audience was fully engaged and invested in the performance, eagerly following along with the ever-evolving storyline. The energy in the room was electric, with spontaneous bursts of applause and cheers punctuating the musical numbers and comedic moments.

The lighting and sound design, considering the improvised nature of the production, were surprisingly well-executed. The lighting cues effectively highlighted key moments and transitions, enhancing the overall atmosphere and adding depth to the performance. The sound design was on point, with crisp and clear audio that balanced the cast’s voices and the accompanying musical accompaniment.

The interaction between the performers and the audience was a delightful aspect of the show. The Writer frequently sought suggestions and input from the audience, incorporating their ideas seamlessly into the unfolding narrative. It created a sense of collaboration and involvement, making the audience feel like active participants in the creation of the musical.

While the storyline may not have been entirely believable in the traditional sense, it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the performance. Showstopper! The Improvised Musical succeeded in delivering an evening of pure hilarity and entertainment. The witty and clever lyrics had me chuckling throughout. If I’m honest, most of the lyrics were better than anything you’d find in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella!

The transitions between scenes were flawlessly executed, with the performers seamlessly adapting to the changing circumstances and incorporating suggestions from the audience. It was a testament to their improvisational skills and their ability to maintain a cohesive and engaging storyline throughout the performance. Each new scene felt fresh and exciting, with the cast expertly setting the stage and establishing the context in a matter of moments.

The quality of the songs and dialogue was consistently high, showcasing the exceptional talent of the performers. Each member of the cast brought their A-game, displaying impressive vocal range, comedic timing, and the ability to think on their feet. It was evident that they were seasoned improvisers who thrived in the spontaneous nature of the show. Their chemistry and camaraderie on stage were palpable, enhancing the overall performance and creating a cohesive ensemble.

Reflecting on the experience, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical left me feeling thoroughly entertained and uplifted. It evoked a wide range of emotions, from uproarious laughter to moments of heartfelt connection. It was a testament to the cast’s ability to create a unique and memorable theatrical experience that resonated with the audience.

I wholeheartedly recommend Showstopper! The Improvised Musical to anyone who loves comedy, musical theatre, or simply desires a fun evening out. The show’s blend of improvisation, music, and humour is a winning combination that guarantees an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a seasoned theatre-goer or someone looking for a unique and engaging performance, Showstopper! is a 5-star hit that should not be missed.





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