Bigger and bolder than ever, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is currently celebrating thirty – two exciting years. In 2018, there are more than six hundred choices on offer.
These highly – diverse options include art exhibitions, cabaret, competitions, debates, improvisation, kids’ comedy, musicals, sketch shows, song cycles, theatre, and traditional stand – up. Put simply, there is something of interest available for everyone.
As fate would have it, two shows this season are built around a similar model.
Musical theatre geek that I am, last week I had the opportunity to review Spontaneous Broadway. The key drawcard being, prior to each performance, viewers are asked to write down potential song title suggestions. From there, the four – strong cast choose which appeal to them most.
With team members pitching their selection along with the inclusion of an original tune, audiences are then asked to vote. The resulting outcome, is witnessing the entire company turn the winning idea into a fully – fledged musical.
Impromptunes takes a slightly different approach, asking punters to shout out musical titles for consideration instead.
The staggering depth and range of previous efforts can be viewed on their website’s ‘Title Bonanza’ page. Spoiled for hilarious choice, so far this season is no exception. The cast have already tackled Attack Of The Beanboy, Ball Tampering, German Ukelele, and Space Bunnies.
On the evening I attended, Hot Chocolate was declared the outright favourite.
The office – based saga ticked all of the musical theatre boxes, including the requisite keyboard overture, a handsome hero, his romantic love interest, a pair of villains, as well as lashings of drama, jealousy and intrigue. Much to my surprise and delight, ‘Hot Chocolate’ had several interpretive dance breaks as well.
In terms of musical content, the sixty – minute running time included the titular number, along with ‘You and I, Me and You, Together’, ‘Maybe, This Is The Moment’, and ‘Sometimes, Love Makes You Sweat’.
When the protagonist, Peter, is deliberately locked in the company safe, two other pieces detailing his dilemma, ‘Trapped’, and ‘Sugar’ were particular standouts.
Impromptunes features a rotating cast from a variety of backgrounds such as WAAPA, VCA, Impro Melbourne, The Improv Conspiracy, Spontaneous Broadway and The Big HOO-HAA!) On this occasion, Amberly Cull, Hollie James, Roland Lewis, Emmet Nichols and Morgan Phillips used their shared improvisation and ensemble skills to excellent effect. Exuding infectious energy, they were all present, in the moment, yet clearly thinking one step ahead at all times.
Like Spontaneous Broadway, the main attraction is watching how well performers walk the tightrope. The group made what they were doing look easy, when it really isn’t. Monday evening’s audience was also warm, encouraging and responsive. They were at one with the team for every step of the way.
Similar in style and flavour to Forbidden Broadway or Theatre Sports, Impromptunes runs for the duration of the festival until April 22. Check it out while you can.