We're creating the audience's musical each time Photography by Geraint Lewis for the West End Apollo Theatre production with permission for varsity

S.S: So tell me about the show.

A.P: The idea behind Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is that the cast creates a new, never-to-be-repeated production every evening, entirely improvised from audience suggestions. The great thing is each show has its own identity and each one is special to each different audience. We did one back a few years at the Edinburgh festival that was sort of a fairy story. It was set inside of a snow globe, and it was about a girl being trapped inside it and having to face her demons in order to break out of the snow globe. It was wonderful to be doing something magical but each production feels magical in its own right. We’re always looking on to the next one.

“For an improv show to be nominated for an Olivier was really very exciting”

S.S: How did the show first come about?

A.P: Adam Meggido and Dylan Emery who are the co-artistic directors of the company, they used to work with a guy called Ken Campbell back in the day was an amazing theatre maverick. He was always up for unusual and fun theatrical explorations. One day when they were working with him doing some improv they stumbled upon wanting to make something that had the feel of a finished, polished West End musical, but that they were spontaneously making up, and so they just hired a rehearsal for a week and got some actors together to practice those improv techniques and they ended up booking a show by the end of the week. The show’s been running since then.

S.S: What were the first few performances like?

A.P: It’s a London based company, the first shows were at the Head and Chickens Theatre in London. We’ve now become a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe for the last thirteen years or so. We expanded our team by looking for people who were good listeners and who had playful energies. We’re lucky that we keep finding those people.

“We’ve now become a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe for the last thirteen years”

S.S: To the point that you’ve won an Olivier, which is exceptional, congratulations!

A.P: Thank you, we were really very proud of that. For an improv show to be nominated for an Olivier was really very exciting and then to actually win was just incredible for us. And really great as an ambassador for the medium of improvisation. We were really pleased to the be able to give that to the art form.

S.S: You’ve performed at Cambridge before, are you looking forward to being back?

A.P: We’ve been a few times. We always love performing in Cambridge, we love the Cambridge Arts Theatre. Obviously because of Covid it’s been a few years since we’ve been around, but it’s been wonderful going around the country and reconnecting with audiences. We’re looking forward to making up something special just for Cambridge. Something you can never see anywhere else in the world.

S.S: Are there any new dimensions you’d like to add to the show?


Mountain View

Green Top shows of the year

A.P: We’re always looking to reinvent and change and discover new things. We don’t know where the next new thing might come from. The audience surprise us each time. I would like the opportunity to do more Sondheim, I love Sondheim. His works have so much nuance and complexity, and undo a lot of people’s clichèd ideas towards musical theatre. I just love musicals and the chance to express in music what words aren’t always able to express. I think we’re also forever building on what makes show like this so exceptional, which is that you never see the same show twice. For the audience its like they’re part of an elite club. A special secret thing just for them. We don’t really look at it as us doing our show, we’re creating the audience’s musicals each time. Facilitating their creativity. We’re super excited to be on the road again and can’t wait to be back in Cambridge.