If readers are unaware of what this show is about: songs are created from titles supplied by the audience. Solos, duets, dance numbers and plot lines are all improvised before your eyes. The audience's favourite is then performed as an entire musical by this incredible team of improvisers - with hilarious results. Whether you love musical theatre or loathe it, you will adore this improvisational feast!
And last night, the audience did.
Improvisation can go either way – surprisingly engaging, witty and entertaining or crash badly, be awkward, stagnant and leave the audience less than forgiving. The one thing to expect is the unexpected.
I am not sure if this was a particularly good night or not, but the audience was in genuine fits of laughter (as were some of the actors on the side on the stage watching their peers justify situations and attempt to rhyme couplets).
One audience member was heard to say after the show: “Man, that was so much better than Wicked!”
The stellar cast of Julia Zemiro, Ross Daniels, Genevieve Morris and Geoff Paine are the best of their breed. There are improvisation clubs and schools in the States where comic stars such as Robin Williams, Steve Martin and Billy Crystal learned their trade. The cast of the show last night reminds one of a similar kind of training ground producing similar kind of talent. The TV version of ‘Thank God You’re Here’ is certainly the more main-stream, more widely recognised format known to audiences, where strong improvisers get to shine, but the Australian version of Spontaneous Broadway is world class and the cast last night set a new benchmark for this kind of comedy.
Host, Russell Fletcher, supported the cast beautifully with interjections, interludes, back story and front story, while Musical Director, John Thorn, spontaneously created hit after hit from German Cabaret-style numbers, bouncy (yet sad) sad Disney-Higgins tunes to joyful anthems, inspiring those with a speech impediment.
The plot of the musical performed in the second half? A man unhappy with himself and his excessive body hair discovers his father is an ape and decides to wax his back, sack and ‘sideways’ in order to win the girl of his affections and become a fulfilled human being. It was gripping, poignant, sad, uplifting, lively, traumatic and joyful all at the same time. Oh and musical. With ballads, duets and a big make-over dance number in the wax salon. Wanna see more? You can’t and won’t. But go to the show and you will see a whole new musical likely to be even more entertaining.
The only thing I know is that you will laugh and laugh.
Venue: Lithuanian Club, Errol St, (part of the Nth. Melb. Town Hall Hub)
Dates: Fri Sept 26 - Sat Oct 11
Time: 9pm (60 mins)
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/season/2008/show/417/ or 03 9660 9666