Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is back in town to delight audiences once again – review

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The Olivier Award-winning improv troupe are back on the West End, with a monthly show at the Garrick Theatre.

This is the third time we’ve had the pleasure of spending an evening with The Showstoppers and as such we can verify that each show is completely unique. For those unfamiliar with the group, the premise is that they improvise a musical on the spot, taking suggestions from the audience for plot, setting and musical styles – we’re also allowed to suggest ideas for plot twists mid-show. Our first encounter, A Lotta Dancing, was set on an allotment in Cornwall, with a blossoming relationship unfolding in the local Cornish pasty factory; our second experience, A Change of Direction, saw a group of out-of-work actors returning to a deserted West End to stage the last show in town.

This time we experienced Doggone, which centred around a murder at a dog show, with music inspired by The Lion King, Hamilton, Cabaret and The Phantom of the Opera. The victim is prize-winning asthmatic chihuahua Pegasus – but who did the deed, and why? Was it another dog owner, jealous of Pegasus’ unblemished five-year winning streak? Was it the dog’s owners, hoping to cash in on their lucrative insurance policy? It’s an amazingly creative plot and a real credit to the talented performers on the stage that they’re able to invent something so inspired off the cuff.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – this group can knock a show together in 75 minutes which is more enjoyable than many other shows we’ve seen, some of which may have taken months and months to prepare. It is, of course, not polished – some songs are stronger than others, some dance routines work well while others are a bit all over the place, some punchlines land while others fall flat. But the end product is still a solid musical which would hold its own against most other shows in town – that they’re putting it together on the spot is amazing to watch.

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