Wonderground The Musical: Not Coming To A Stage Near You
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
Wonderground — an enchanting subterranean musical set on the tube, with touches of Grease, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a pinch of flamenco for good measure — sounds like a West End cash cow focus-grouped to within an inch of its life. In fact, the premise has been harvested just moments ago from audience suggestions, and is now being fashioned together in front of our eyes, faster than you can say "something that's NOT to do with Nando's please".
The Showstoppers really know what they're doing, even if it is just a few seconds before they actually do it. The improv troupe have been reeling off their spur-of-the-second musicals for nigh-on eight years now, although by their very nature, each musical lasts just one night only. This makes every single show feel special; while all the best musicals are timeless, each Showstoppers' run is as ephemeral as The Intimate Review, but brilliant all the same.
The performers career around the Udderbelly stage to the audience's every whim, bouncing from trippy opera, to Ebb and Kander in a boarding school, to the campest bank hold-up you'll ever see. They've even catered to the irritating audience members who keep shouting out "Nando's!" for every suggestion, by naming one of the protagonists after the piri piri chicken empire.
Although not every single ad-libbed lyric makes sense and not every single gag pays off, the Showstoppers prove they're worth their salt by halting every time they feel they've hit a wall (hence the name), resetting the scene and making it work better.
Shame, really that after getting such a good write-up, Wonderground will never be seen or heard again.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is on at the Udderbelly, on the South Bank 10, 17, 24 May; 7, 14, 17 June and 5 and 12 July. Tickets £17.50/£16 (£22.50 sirloin seats). There's also a special children's show on 24 May and 14 June. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.
Last Updated 24 April 2015