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Blog - Showstopper! The Musical High-Wire Act

Adam Meggido (co-creator)

When we started Showstopper! in 2007, I was very clear about one thing - I wanted it to look and feel like a real musical. I wanted people to fall in love and dance about in top hats. I had no interest in 'an improv show with songs in it.' (There were plenty of those around and some very good ones too.) I wanted a show that would one day sit in the West End. You know... a musical.

This week we complete our ten-week run at the Apollo. To one side stands Thriller, a hit tribute to one of the most successful song-and-dance men in history; on the other is Les Miserables, the longest-running and most popular musical of all time; and cheekily nestling between them on Shaftesbury Avenue is Showstopper! The Improvised Musical.

I'm a sucker for a good musical. Can't help it - its in my blood. My parents were in musicals. I grew up with musicals. For the past ten weeks, making one up every night has been a unique joy.

The concept is, of course, absurdly aspirational: an entertainment that feels like a finished, polished product even though it is all being made up on the spot (a challenge laid down to us by our mentor, the late, great Ken Campbell). Occasionally we actually reach the dizzy heights we aim for. More often we fail gloriously (and hopefully hilariously). It's a musical high-wire act where we fall off the tightrope on a regular basis. Sharing the danger and the immediacy with the audience is the fun. But I think the show has another key ingredient - naivety. We have always been a bunch of misfit fools enlisting the audience's help to put on a show while smiling in the face of seemingly impossible odds. I think these elements have brought people back to the show repeatedly (one lady has seen the show sixteen times over the ten-week run!). Showstopper! is all about celebrating our audiences. So we would like to say thank you to our audiences.

Thank you.

Over the years we have endured the endless accusations of it 'not being improvised' and the bizarrely amusing conspiracy theories that people dream up - everything from stooges in the audience triggering pre-planned stories to high-tech earpieces feeding us lines during the show.

I figured there would be a lot of people who wouldn't like it and a lot of press who would be cynical about it and that we were unlikely to run for the full ten weeks but I thought - come on, let's at least give it a go. I had no idea the critical response would be so staggeringly positive and more than anything I am delighted that we reached new audiences, most of whom have never seen any kind of improvised show before.

Showstopper! is the first long-form improv show ever to run in the West End (and possibly the first improvised show of any kind to run for that long in town). We are thrilled, delighted and really rather humbled that so many people saw it and enjoyed it. We owe a huge debt of thanks to numerous folk including the wonderful teams at Nimax and the Apollo, and especially to Nica Burns and Lawrence Miller, to Suz Rosenthal, James Seabright, Julius Green, Ray Cooney and our relentlessly generous co-director Keith Strachan.

To all the above and to all who came to see Showstopper! thanks for taking a risk on a bunch of warbling clowns running amok amid the stars...

We hope to be back soon!

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical will indeed be back soon - it transfers next door to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue for just 10 more performances between 15th February and 25th July.

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From This Author - Guest Blogger: Showstopper!