Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

No one expects to watch a musical set in a dog parlour with a canine duel – or, more precisely, ‘The Amazing New York State Poodle Fighting Championship’ – as its climax. Not a musical featuring cutesy Frozen-inspired flashbacks and a risqué Sweet Transvestite number; especially not one entitled Dogging. But I guess that’s what you get if you ask a Fringe crowd to call the shots.

You’ll sure experience a raucous, riotous hour-and-a-bit where anything goes.

The audience has plenty of chances to do just that, blurting out musical styles and influencing the plot as the show is stopped and the performers decide what to do next. It’s a marvel witnessing songs being constructed live, with actors honing in on particular lyrics (a snogging/dogging rhyme comes to mind). The dialogue is so downright funny – funnier than many musical scripts in fact, which is a pleasant surprise. “One day I want to make a dog look as beautiful as you,” Pippa Evans whimpered in a baby voice to Ruth Bratt during a time lapse sequence. These two work off each other masterfully, harmonising playfully. It’s just a shame they pressed that joke one too many times.

Dylan Emery deserves a special mention too. Provocatively leaning over the foldback in his Rocky Horror-style solo, his experience showed when he sang with gusto, “I’ve been here for a while.” There were some weaker moments: a Going Down, New York Town ‘rap’ didn’t quite hit the mark and the self-proclaimed Showstopper was the worst number of the lot. The cast’s willingness to acknowledge and embrace the flaws in the performance more than made up for these though. Sarah-Louise Young came up with the word “contendant” and, after a self-mocking laugh, ran with her neologism.

There were flashes of brilliance here as the cast responded to the audience’s Classical suggestions with fluttery vocals set to a Verdian melody and interrupted by farcical Strauss operatics. The grammar may not have been right, but chanting “de canis mortuum” here was a delightful addition. Finally, the show ended in "Dogging all night, dogging all day". You won’t be treated to that but you’ll sure experience a raucous, riotous hour-and-a-bit where anything goes.

Reviews by Oliver Newson

Greenside @ Royal Terrace

Perceptual Landscape

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Jamie MacDonald: Oblivious

★★★★
Assembly George Square Theatre

Siro-A

★★★
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Lee Miller and Picasso

★★★★
C venues - C

Pippin

★★
Pleasance Courtyard

The Falcon's Malteser by Anthony Horowitz

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A brand new musical comedy is created from scratch at every performance of this multi award-winning show. Audience suggestions are instantly transformed into an all-singing, all-dancing production with unpredictable and hilarious results. Now in their seventh year as an Edinburgh must-see phenomenon! With an acclaimed BBC Radio 4 series and four sell-out West End seasons to their name, The Showstoppers have delighted audiences across the globe with their ingenious blend of comedy, musical theatre, and spontaneity. 'A blast. Makes your jaw drop in impressed amazement and your ribs ache with laughter' ***** (Mail on Sunday).