The Whingers once created a musical.
Needless to say it ran for one solitary but (we thought) rather fabulous performance. To put that in a context, that’s 4 less than Broadway’s infamous flop musical Carrie’s official performance run and on a par with DJ Mike Read‘s Oscar Wilde musical, Oscar.
Well, we say created, but actually we just provided a basis for the storyline, a couple of song titles and various other things to try and trip up (Andrew called upon them to sing whilst eating cream crackers!) the inventive cast and band of Showstopper!
If you can’t be bothered to read all of the hundreds of titles of previous Showstopper! shows posted outside the Apollo Theatre where it’s now having its first proper West End residency then just pause at number 224, Dametastick!!
For that title was the brainwave of the Whingers 5 years ago when Andrew and Phil – for reasons we struggle to remember – were invited to the stage of the King’s Head Theatre with our ‘inspirations’ sealed in a brown envelope which was not revealed to the cast until they stepped on the stage.
Normally, and much more interestingly, the audience are invited to shout out their suggestions during the show and this is how they proceeded at show number number 617. A brand new musical is created at every performance. Scary.
So to call 617 Swill! is not an insult. The setting selected was a pig farm in Dorset with a love story between Dolores (Pippa Evans) and Jethro (Oliver Senton) at its centre. That and the title was chosen and voted for by the audience after Phil’s suggestion of Pork Scratchings was met with the sound of tumbleweed drifting through the auditorium. This being a family show the cast were understandably steered away from referencing Downing Street and resisted. Well, almost.
Cue, on this occasion, bacon-themed songs, pastiching Oklahoma!, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, The Mikado, Annie, Grease, Company and Eric Clapton, affectionately mocking and celebrating their styles at the same time.
If there’s terror in the eyes of the performers it doesn’t show. How they make up songs on the hoof (or perhaps the trotter in this case) defies explanation. One clever number, set on Clifton Suspension Bridge, in the finger-clicking style of West Side Story managed, rather brilliantly, to shoehorn Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s name into the song. And it still scanned. Amazing.
Of course, no two shows can ever be the same. So you can come back time and time again and see the brilliance of the rotating cast. Ours included (we think, as we are going by cast photos from the programme and we know how misleading they can be) Andrew Pugsley, Justin Brett, Ruth Bratt, and Showstopper! co-founders Adam Meggido and Dylan Emery, plus a band who lead or follow the performers quite astonishingly.
Phil even came out humming the closing number, “Where There’s Swill There’s a Way”, which is more than he can say about most new show tunes.
You don’t even have to like musicals to enjoy this one. In fact, if musicals aren’t really your thing it may even help.