WHAT is Showstopper?

The official description is one of the more unusual for a high-profile phenomenon with a West End pedigree.

“A brand new musical comedy is created from scratch at each performance of this award-winning show, as audience suggestions are transformed on the spot into all-singing, all-dancing productions with hilarious results.

“The incredible performers are guaranteed to impress as they create shows packed with drama, dazzling dance routines and catchy melodies - it’s just all made up on the spot.

“So whether you fancy some Rodgers and Hammerstein set on a Ferris wheel or a little Sondheim on Mount Everest - you suggest it and the Showstoppers will sing it!”

The fun comes to the Wyvern Theatre on Saturday, September 21.

Showstopper won an Olivier Award in 2016, and director and co-founder Adam Meggido recently directed Olivier-nominated comedy Peter Pan Goes Wrong throughout a West End run and UK tour.

Showstopper owes its existence in part to somebody regarded as a major force in unconventional theatre.

Adam said: “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.”

Some of the team met through Ken Campbell, who died in 2008, while others were brought together by Adam’s fellow co-creator and director, Dylan Emery.

Is there a recipe for good improvisation?

“The basic principles are actually quite simple,” said Adam.

“The rest is practice. It’s mostly about 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.”

People often ask whether the troupe has pre-agreed back-up material in case of emergencies.

“Nope,” said Adam. “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 that’s how the show is created.”

The team, like many troupes of improvisers, is sometimes accused by cynics of planting people in its audiences to suggest certain ideas. Adam dismisses such claims.

“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.”

The Wyvern performance, starting at 7.30pm, will be suitable for audience members aged 14 and above.

Tickets cost £28.50, with concessions available, and the box office can be contacted via swindontheatres.co.uk and on 01793 524481.

The Showstopper website is www.theshowstoppers.org