Tag Archives: Adam Meggido

Showstoppers

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

★★★★

Garrick Theatre

Showstoppers

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Garrick Theatre

Reviewed – 7th December 2020

★★★★

 

“showcases impeccable talent, commitment and a glorious sense of humour”

 

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical uses audience suggestion to create a new musical every single night. This makes for a difficult review, as despite last night’s ‘A Change of Direction’, a piece about ‘out of work’ actors finding performances in their day to day lives, being brilliant, it will never be seen again. That being said, it is clear that there is an envious amount of talent on stage; from the musicians, who improvise each song and manage to keep in tempo and melody with the actors, to the actors themselves, who pull off such an impressive range, they truly blow you away.

Entering the theatre after the UK’s second lockdown would have been a treat enough, but Oscar Thompson (sound designer) collated an uplifting array of musical theatre anthems and the audience, despite being socially distanced, is immediately uplifted and ready to have some fun. On the front of the stage there is a large, branded banner, asking audience members to text in ideas for what the musical could be about tonight, as well as favourite musicals that they’d like the cast to style their improvisation to. With a ring of a red phone that lights up centre stage, it’s clear we’re ready to begin.

From the outset of the show, when an unnamed person (performed by Dylan Emery) answers the phone to a mysterious producer, the humour in the show is set alight. Emery announces that he is delighted to be finally asked to put on a musical after such a long period of ‘theatre drought’ and comically says that he will have it ready in 75 minutes without a problem. Emery’s intelligent and relevant humour works beautifully as he effortlessly engages with the audience throughout the show. He begins reading out the audience’s suggestions; what they have texted into him for musical ideas and themes. When the audience has decided (through cheering for their favourite title) the improvisation begins.

A standout performance was given by Justin Brett, whose charm and charisma was effervescent. However, an astounding level of skill was displayed by each person on the stage. The actors and musicians transition with ease between operatic numbers in the style of Phantom of The Opera, to making up rap on the spot so that they might imitate Hamilton. This show is particularly brilliant if you’re musical theatre knowledge is expert; if you know the stylings of Sondheim, to the opposite on the spectrum SIX, each impression is faultless. I worry that this might have been lost on first time musical theatre goers, but the cast and band’s ability would be impressive still. A highlight in the show occurred when the actors didn’t in fact get everything perfect; their panicked stares as it became clear they were running out of things to say was embraced by the other cast members and was celebrated with hilarity.

At various moments throughout the show, Emery will suddenly stand, freezing the cast and announcing a development he’d like to enforce (usually taken from the most outrageous message he’d received in from the audience) to ensure that the cast are keeping to a story arc and structure. This works perfectly should the cast begin to go off subject or reach a dead end in their improvisation. The only criticism I would have is that the cast on occasion don’t fully listen to Emery’s direction and so there is a tendency to labour the point a little, but perhaps they were buying themselves time to think in response to one of Emery’s daring requests!

All in all, this musical showcases impeccable talent, commitment and a glorious sense of humour. It was clear that no one on the stage was taking themselves too seriously, which is hugely welcome by a world starved of live entertainment.

 

Reviewed by Mimi Monteith

Photography by Geraint Lewis

 


Showstoppers! The Improvised Musical

Garrick Theatre – various dates until March 2021

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Brainiac Live! | ★★★★ | August 2019
Rip It Up – The 60s | ★★★ | February 2019
Bitter Wheat | ★★★★ | June 2019
Noises Off | ★★★★ | October 2019
Potted Panto | ★★★ | December 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

★★★★★

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Peter Pan Goes WrongPeter Pan Goes Wrong

Theatre Royal Brighton

Reviewed – 19th November 2019

★★★★★

 

“Simon Scullion has designed a set that seems to be always on the verge of killing someone, yet manages not to”

 

Glorious slapstick, wonderful cheeky humour, and a completely mad ‘plot.’ Peter Pan Goes Wrong has everything you could possibly want from a hilarious evening at the theatre.

Once again I had my nine year old sidekick, Manu, with me to help with the review. He loved it, I loved it, clearly the whole audience loved it. Manu’s favourite bits were the most outrageous physical ‘mishaps’; the collapsing sets, the appearance on stage of the crew, trying to fix things with a chain saw and various other alarming tools. But the fun began even before the show did. Cast and crew moved through the audience, getting in the way, running wires, looking for lost equipment and chatting with people in their personas as amateur actors on their way to perform. Patrick Warner the narrator, who also plays the Cecco, the Italian pirate, made Manu a balloon dog and Ciaran Kellgren who plays Peter Pan came along, playing the star. ‘You know who I am,’ he informed Manu, and luckily he did, because he’d been reading the programme. ‘You’re my biggest fan’ crowed Kellgren and signed his programme. One very happy boy, even before the play officially began.

Another thing that Manu loved was the number of characters some of the cast played. Phoebe Ellabani executed some lightning changes right at the beginning, transforming from Mary Darling to Lisa the maid in seconds. Several times. Later she became both Tiger Lily and Tinkerbell. Peter Pan’s flying was incredibly skilful. He made it look shambolic, dangerous and very, very funny. I don’t want to give too much away, but when the ‘stage hands’ came on to wire up the Darling children for their flight to Neverland they didn’t exactly manage to do it right. You’ll have to go and see it if you want to know what happens! It’s hard to convey the sense of breathtaking chaos. Nothing goes right, and everything is perfectly judged.

Romayne Andrews, as John Darling wearing headphones that ‘fed him his lines,’ had some fabulous moments when he unknowingly tuned into the shipping forecast, or the ‘backstage chat,’ repeating everything verbatim. Tom Babbage’s Michael Darling/crocodile combo won the hearts of us all, when his secret passion was revealed, his charm and vulnerability turning him from a geeky kid to the audience favourite. Connor Crawford’s outrageous and exasperated Captain Hook was determined that the play was NOT a pantomime, but nothing was going to stop the audience taking up the traditional ‘oh yes it is! Oh no it isn’t!’ call.

Everyone in the cast deserves mention, as they were all superb. Katy Daghorn was a Wendy holding it together with Sarah Bernhardt aplomb, Oliver Senton bumbled and growled as Starkey, woofed his way across the stage as Nana the dog and was determined that he was the Co-Director, not merely the assistant. Georgia Bradley was a sweet Tootles, injured and stuttering but finally triumphant and Ethan Moorhouse’s Trevor the Stage Manager was the epitome of incompetent frustration, trying to fix everything as it collapsed around him. Although the collapse was probably his fault in the first place, his team of Assistant Stage Managers, Eboni Dixon, Christian James, Soroosh Lavasani and Ava Pickett ‘helped’ with startling uselessness.

Just when it seems impossible for things to fall apart even more spectacularly the finale happens. And it seems to happen to the cast, rather than be created by them. The revolving stage revolves, everything seems on the edge of total implosion and somehow the characters arrive at something approaching the expected end.

Simon Scullion has designed a set that seems to be always on the verge of killing someone, yet manages not to. The lighting and sound design add beautifully to the explosions and mishaps. And it’s all shaped into a tight, crazy farce by Adam Meggido, who expects a lot from his cast and absolutely gets it.

The whole thing is a superb romp that anyone from nine to ninety will love, acted and directed with whip smart skill. Manu and I both say ‘go and see it!’ You won’t regret it, although your ribs may be sore from laughing.

 

Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Alastair Muir

 

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Peter Pan Goes Wrong

Theatre Royal Brighton until 24th November then UK tour continues

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
This is Elvis | ★★★ | July 2018
Salad Days | ★★★ | September 2018
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019
Noughts And Crosses | ★★ | March 2019
Rotterdam | ★★★★ | April 2019
The Girl on the Train | ★★ | June 2019
Hair The Musical | ★★★ | July 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews