Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Dramaturgy Stopper: Adam Megiddo @ Edfringe 2017

The Showstoppers present:

The 2016 Olivier Award Winners for 
Best Entertainment & Family Show
Return To Edinburgh For Their 10th Anniversary Season

2nd – 27th August at The Pleasance Grand

Critically acclaimed improvised musical comedy Showstopper! The Improvised Musical returns to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a spectacular 10th year. Following their 2016 Olivier Award Winning West End debut at the Apollo Theatre and a celebrated UK tour, The Showstoppers are making 2017 their best year yet, one brand new musical at a time. 

The Showstoppers will create a new production, live on stage each night, at the Pleasance Grand from 2nd 27th August. Tickets on sale Thursday 2nd February.

What was the inspiration for this performance? 

The late, great Ken Campbell. When I met him in 2005 he had recently returned from Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, where he had seen the Die Nasty improvised soap opera. Ken thought their work was 'better than a lot of scripted stuff’ so he rallied a bunch of us together and we started making-things-up-on-the-spot. 
One of the challenges Ken liked to throw at us was ‘do this scene like it’s from a musical’ and off we went, improvising singing everywhere from The Royal Court Theatre to Shakespeare’s Globe. After a while, we formed our own company and decided to put the hours in, researching musicals, practicing how to improvise them and training together as an ensemble. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Sure. Especially in improvisation where the audience can directly affect the action, even choosing theme and subject matter for the evening.

How did you go about gathering the team for it? 

It started with a few people who had been working with Ken Campbell. Then Dylan Emery (Showstopper! co-creator) added some comedians and improvisers that he knew. We were very lucky that the initial alchemy was so strong and the core of the group is still together, many years later. 
Now we audition people every year or so for a new intake. it takes about three years to learn the skills necessary to perform the show.

How did you become interested in making performance? 

Theatre is in my blood. My parents were dancers and choreographers. Music was my first great love but theatre took hold of me in my teens. I love seeing the spark of an idea develop over months and years until it is finally realised with an audience. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We try to work together as much as we possibly can. Teamwork, trust and familiarity is essential. And we invest a lot of time in studying musicals.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

No it’s nothing like anything I have ever worked on before! There is no blueprint for it. The development of the show (artistically and commercially) is as improvised as the show itself! In traditional script-based theatre you begin with a script, make a plan, and then work for weeks towards a final product. 
In Showstopper! we begin with the finished product being made-up-on-the-spot and then work backwards to the end of the show to discover what it is we have just created. It is the inverse of many artistic processes and endlessly fascinating to work on. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

It’s a great night out. Lots of fun. Wild, dangerous, unpredictable and constantly engaging. We are told that people who like musicals love Showstopper! because they get to see a brand new musical forged fresh in the moment every night. And people who don’t like musicals also say they enjoy it because the get to see one deconstructed in front of their eyes. So everyone wins! And it’s funny. Very, very funny.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 

Improvisation has a reputation for being a bit knockabout, a little low-rent sometimes. We aim to make Showstopper! look slick and polished, like a fully-rehearsed finished product. This is why many people don’t believe it’s improvised. But I can assure you it is. It’s a show that belongs to its audiences because it is created out of their ideas.

No two nights are ever the same as The Showstoppers take audience suggestions and then spin a comedy musical out of thin air - stories, characters, tunes, lyrics, dances, harmonies and all - with unpredictable and hilarious results. If you’ve thought improv looked difficult before, try doing it in time (and tune) to music! The Showstoppers truly are the masters of musical theatre high-wire.

The Showstoppers have grown since 2008 to become the UK’s most acclaimed and in-demand musical improvisers, becoming a must-see global phenomenon. They now celebrate their 10th Edinburgh Festival Fringe anniversary by returning to their spiritual home at one of the world’s most famous fringe festivals! With a critically acclaimed West End run at the Apollo Theatre and now a residency at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue and an acclaimed BBC Radio 4 series to their name, The Showstoppers have taken their ingenious blend of comedy, musical theatre and spontaneity around the globe, receiving accolades and awards including the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment & Family Show 2016, Chortle Best Character, Improv or Sketch Act 2016, The Times Best of the Fringe, Mervyn Stutter’s Spirit Of The Fringe Award and nominations for MTM Best Production Award and MTM Judges’ Discretionary Award.

The Showstoppers also hosted the recent London Jam at Wilton’s Music Hall, an impressive week-long festival featuring the best in UK and international improv acts, culminating in a thrilling London 50-hour Improvathon. 

The Cast:

The rotating cast features some of the brightest minds at the forefront of the UK improv scene and in the world of comedy and musical theatre. The company includes:
  • Co-founder Adam Meggido, an award-winning writer/composer who has improvised at the National, The Royal Court Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and currently holds the world record for the directing the longest impro show - 55 hours without a break. He recently directed Olivier Award Nominated Peter Pan Goes Wrong at the Apollo Theatre (for Mischief Theatre), which was also televised on BBC One 
  • Dylan Emery, the other co-founder, has been improvising for more than 15 years – including at the National/Royal Court/Shakespeare’s Globe. He created veteran comedy improv group Grand Theft Impro, and the UK’s premier website devoted to the form thecrunchyfrogcollective.com.
  • Pippa Evans is an Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee who has had great success on TV, Radio and stage – she is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show and BBC2’s Fast and Loose, performs regularly with the Comedy Store Players and has had many years of success with her hit character act Loretta Maine. She won the Chortle Award for Music & Variety last year and made her debut on BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute recently, as well as appearing on BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. 
  • Ruth Bratt is a writer/performer and Fringe regular for the last 12 years. Radio appearances include Trodd en Bratt Say Well Done You, Sarah Millican’s Support Group, and Best Laid Plans; television appearances includes People Just Do Nothing,  Vic Reeves’ The Ministry of Curious Stuff, Fast & Loose, and Ricky Gervais’ Derek; film includes Wyrdoes. 
  • Sarah-Louise Young is an internationally renowned cabaret performer, actress and writer. Named one of Time Out’s Top 10 Cabaret Acts and voted Best Musical Variety Act in the London Cabaret Awards, Sarah-Louise won The Stage award for her work across three shows at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. She is one half of writing and performing duo Roulston & Young and has guested with Fascinating Aïda.

Dates: 2nd – 27th August Show: Showstopper! The Improvised Musical
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard - Grand
Address: 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 9TJ
Time: 6pm (70 mins) 
Price: Previews £10, Early Week £13 (£11) Midweek £15 (£13), Weekend £17 (£14.50)
Box office: www.pleasance.co.uk / www.edfringe.com

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