The improvisational comedy/cabaret show that is “Spontaneous Broadway” originated in New York during the late Nineties, created by Kat Koppett in association with Freestyle Repertory Theatre.
John Thorn, the Musical Director/Producer of the Australian version, saw the show in America after it had been playing for a year or so, and decided that it would be well suited to our love of musicals and comedy. He brought it to our shores in 2000. Since then, the production has won the special Palme D’Broadway at the 2001 Melbourne Fringe Festival and played to sell-out houses at the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide’s Cabaret Festival and the Christchurch International Festival.
The concept is simple: the audience write down a phrase or word, it’s placed in a hat, the four cast members then select one piece of paper each and turn what is written there into a song. They then individually ‘pitch’ a musical featuring the song to the audience, who then vote for the full-flung musical (complete with Overture) that they want to see.
Thorn feels that the American version is a little more formal, while ours allows for some good Aussie ’larrikinism’. Things can get wonderfully out of hand at times: Mr Thorn remembers a time when they did a performance entitled “Adverbs Gone Wild” that had an evil Professor of English releasing all the adverbs on an unsuspecting London because he didn’t like what was being done to the English language – it was only right at the end that he and the cast realised that they had used adjectives instead.
When asked if he had a favourite spontaneous musical, Thorn replied “That perhaps the most satisfying for me was one we did called “I.R. Abattoir”. It occurred because of John Howard’s Industrial Relations initiative – it was extremely topical and great fun”. His most difficult was one set in the West Indies. “I’m not a fan of Reggae and it was hard to not make all the songs sound the same”.
John is very excited when it comes to the cast that Adelaide audiences will see this Fringe season – it’s brand new! The performers are: South Australian born Emily Taheny (“Comedy Inc” and “The Jesters”), Scott Brennan (“Comedy Inc” and “Skit House”), improv artist Rik Brown and Gillian Cosgriff (“Waitressing And Other Things I Do Well”). “Emily and Gillian both have wonderful voices – in fact, the entire cast is very strong”.
For the Adelaide season, the host and ’director’ will be Chris Keogh (“Comedy Company”). “The ’director’ can stop the show anytime, take bits out or make the actors repeat things – basically tries to prevent things from getting too confused” says Mr. Thorn.
“Spontaneous Broadway” has two shows only in Adelaide: Sunday 4th March at 7.00pm and Monday 5th March at 8.30pm – both in the Idolize Spiegeltent at the Garden Of Unearthly Delights.
Photo courtesy of Troupe Du Jour