ANYTHING could happen when the 2016 Olivier Award-winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical takes shape from scractch at the Grand Opera House, York, on March 15.

No two nights are ever the same as The Showstoppers take audience suggestions to spin a new comedy musical out of thin air – stories, characters, tunes, lyrics, dances, harmonies et al – with unpredictable and humorous results.

The show is on tour after a sold-out run at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe 2017, preceded by its award-winning West End debut at the Apollo Theatre, London.

First assembled in 2008, The Showstoppers company have four West End seasons and a BBC Radio 4 series to their name and have taken their blend of comedy, musical theatre and spontaneity around the globe, improvising in increasingly esoteric styles, whether musical, dance, straight theatre or film genres.

The rotating cast includes co-founder Adam Meggido, a writer/composer who has improvised at the National Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and holds the world record for the directing the longest impro show: 55 hours without a break.

Fellow co-founder Dylan Emery has been improvising for more than 15 years, also creating veteran comedy improv group Grand Theft Impro; Pippa Evans is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show and BBC2’s Fast And Loose, performs with the Comedy Store Players and has a character act by the name of Loretta Maine.

Ruth Bratt, an improv Fringe regular for the past 11 years, has appeared in Ricky Gervais’s Derek, Sarah Millican’s Support Group and Vic Reeves’s The Ministry Of Curious Stuff; Sarah-Louise Young, winner of the Best Musical Variety Act in the London Cabaret Awards, has taken her Cabaret Whore show across the world.

Just A Quickie with...Adam Meggido, co-founder of The Showstoppers

What can next Thursday's audience expect from the show?

"A musical! With catchy songs, dazzling dance routines, sweeping storylines and hilarious characters. The only difference with our show is that everything is entirely made up on the spot out of audience suggestions. It’s all 100 per cent improvised.

What inspired you to develop the concept of The Showstoppers?

"About ten years ago, some of us were working with the great theatre maverick Ken Campbell. Ken was inspired by a troupe he had seen in Canada called Die Nasty.

"He said their improvisation was so slick, entertaining and impressive that it was better than a great deal of scripted theatre. We decided to do the same with a musical. The Showstoppers love musicals, and we love improvisation, so this project was a perfect fit for us all."

How did you all meet?

"Some through Ken Campbell, some through Dylan Emery, co-creator and director of Showstopper!. We're an eccentric rag-tag bunch of misfits and oddities and somehow that works perfectly for this show."

York Press:

The Showstoppers: anything can happen! 

Is there a recipe for good improvisation?

"The basic principles are actually quite simple. The rest is practice. It's mostly about listening. Real listening. Listening to each other’s ideas, agreeing with them immediately and building on them. For Showstopper!, of course we have to know our musicals, so a huge amount of hard work is part of that recipe too."

Can you almost second guess each other's responses?

"Sometimes yes, but often the real fun is when we clash and don’t quite catch what’s happening. The audience see everything, of course, so they enjoy seeing these clashes and wondering how we're going to get out of the trouble we've put ourselves in. The relationship is not just between performers but also the band, our lighting operator and, of course, the audience. Don’t worry; there's no awkward, forced audience participation."

Do you have back-up material that you can pull out of the bag if necessary?

"Nope. Never. It doesn’t help to do so. Trying to plan anything in advance actually makes it more difficult to improvise. It’s genuinely easier to stay calm, present and be in the moment. Riskier, yes, but ultimately that’s how the show is created."

Are you ever accused of planting audience members with specific requests?

"All the time. There are some people who will never believe it's improvised. I guess it’s a compliment in a way. After all, we set out to create a show that doesn’t look improvised. But what can we say? It honestly is entirely improvised with no plants or stooges. Some people have seen the show 50 or 60 times! They would have said something by now if they thought we were cheating. Anyway, where’s the fun in having plants in the audience? We genuinely want to be challenged."

How much of the show's success is rooted in the tension created by the feeling of "Will they mess up?".

"The element of danger is essential. It’s essential in all live theatre but often lacking. Well, you’ll get it by the sack-full in this show."

How hard do audiences try to bamboozle you with outlandish suggestions?

"A great deal. Usually the ideas are not as imaginative as they initially think. Setting our show 'in a toilet' or 'on the moon' sounds outlandish until you realise (1) everybody says it, so it’s not very original at all, and (2) it would be interesting for about two minutes and wouldn’t necessarily sustain a 90-minute show.

"We ask the audience to try to dream up their best ideas and come up with something genuinely inspiring that makes a great musical. Having said that, if you really want it set in a toilet on the moon, we’ll do it."

Out of the many musicals you have created, do you have any favourites?

"Ah, so many. I enjoyed a musical called Don’t Look Down about couples who go white water rafting as a kind of therapy. I also enjoyed The Lyin’ King, a story about a newspaper editor, on our opening night at the Apollo. Maybe, with your help, our favourites will be in York!"

Tickets for next Thursday's 7.30pm show are on sale from £15 at or on 0844 871 3024.