REVIEW: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at Nuffield Campus, Southampton

Showstopper! The improvised musical
Showstopper! The improvised musical
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How do you improvise a musical?

With prompts from the audience of course, generic set pieces and a great, great, great deal of talent.

No Way Out, set in an escape room, told the twisted tales of five friends who learn that they have to work together in order to escape, with a healthy helpings of Jaffa cakes and sausages along the way, while improvising scenes and songs in the style of High School Musical, Mamma Mia, Phantom of The Opera and some random grime artist that a group of young audience members suggested while the rest of us oldies energetically waved out hands waiting to call out some more tired old tropes.

This team of performers, five in the ensemble, one compere-esque type and two musicians, showcased their show-stopping abilities, skilfully switching from one style to the next with the most bizarre set of instructions and making it work. They embroidered basic genres with repetitive, yet clever, lyrics relating to the subject matter at hand and harmonised key moments.

The theme of teamwork ,picked-up in the second act, was more than beautifully showcased by the way in which the showstoppers already work together, even making up pithy meaningful quotes at the same time, as a chorus. You can see the drama games, the practice, who’s leading whom, but it’s so brilliantly done, all you can do is smile.

With a second venue newly opened in the city centre, Nuffield should be able to showcase more musicals, including new writing (but not as new as Showstoppers). Teddy’s coming this week (from today to March 3), by Tristan Bernays and Dougal Irvine, a 1950s spectacle.