Austria: The MOOsical
When you have endless possibilities for the setting and story line of a musical, the topics that come up can be adventurous, hilarious and quite frankly, strange. The theme chosen for my evening at the improvised musical, Showstopper! involved cow-milkers in the hills of Austria set to the music of Fiddler on the Roof, School of Rock, Mamma Mia and Titanic. Interesting to say the least, but once it begins you will question just how the company manages to create an entertaining show so quickly and flawlessly.
With six performers, a three-piece band and a host bringing it all together, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is nothing short of phenomenal. Beginning with audience suggestions – both shouted out and Tweeted – the company works together to form a story line on the spot from the setting and songs. There is choreography, original music, plot twists and character progression, and of course, a lot of humour and even some wobbly bits in the form of cast members finding it just as hilarious as the audience does.
Our tale consisted of two opposing cow-milkers on each side a mountain in rural Austria – the east and west – and was a love story entwined with monogamous and polyamorous relationships, thrown in with comedy involving nudity and a mystical cut-off age of fifty. It was absurd, it was funny, it was clever and above all, the quick-thinking improv laid out on stage was simply a wonder to watch.
The only weakness I found during my evening at Showstopper! was that I felt a couple of the songs didn’t quite capture the essence of the style they were trying to convey. For example the song in the style of Titanic was upbeat and not entirely reminiscent of the classic movie soundtrack, although when the actors recreated the perfect ‘I’m flying’ pose during the song, it caused a lot of cheering from the audience. This was a minor gripe, however, as the band are extremely impressive and provide an excellent accompaniment. The highlight for me in the whole show was the brilliant School of Rock number improvised by Heather Urquhart – complete with air guitar – that perfectly encapsulated the pre-teen angst of the hit Lloyd-Webber musical.
Showstopper! is different each night, meaning that you can see a completely original show each time if you decide to return another day and heckle ideas out. I personally would love to see one set in the fruit and veg aisle of a supermarket to music in the style of Frozen, so I might be returning to The Other Palace sooner than expected…
Review by Alice Bzowska