Tuesday, 18 August 2009


17/8/09, Musical Theatre @ George Square (Edinburgh Fringe)

If producing a musical that's funny, engaging, with hummable tunes and audience involvement is as easy as this, whu are so many musicals so terrible? Improv always looks difficult, but improv to music? With rhymes? Surely not! But this lot (eight cast, pianist, MC) do it superbly. Cameron Mackintosh, who produced apparently, is on to a winner.

The idea is to improvise a musical from scratch with some input from the audience. The MC is downstage left with the pianist and his own spotlight. The cast are hiding behind four moveable screens, dressed in red and black, with a few hats, canes, chairs and feather boas for props.

The audience involvement is pretty slight, mainly restricted to suggesting appropriate musical genres for the next number. I assume the cast have rehearsed generic songs "in the style of..." to which they then put appropriate words.

We got a splendid confection about a theatre threatened with closure to make way for a Starbucks and haunted by the ghost of Longshanks and his murderous snakes, with Angela the ingenue in specs waiting for her big break.

Songs in the style of Cole Porter (that was a duet for a pair of budgie-juggling twins), Kander and Ebb, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Schwarz and others.

The only weak link was the matinee guest star, some chap who'd appeared on one of Lloyd Webber's TV talent shows ("This bloke's an idiot," A remarked loudly at one stage, and she wasn't wrong). But he could sing.


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