Francesca Buckland takes us to the latest brilliant improved musical from Sternlook
Initially sceptical about how Baron Sternlook Production’s ‘Big Naughty Improvised Musical’ could surpass the first performance I attended; I was keen to witness the talented troupe in action for a second time. I was not to be disappointed. The company’s mission statement, ‘[to] spread silliness, naughtiness and fun…’ is exactly what they achieved with their quick paced, witty performance.
Situated in The Lounge Bar, Selly Oak, the set, costume and technical design was minimalistic for practicality and in keeping with the nature of an improvised performance. I was lead into the unknown with my only hint as to the content of the musical being the few improv suggestion words I had contributed into the makeshift hat. The ‘hat’ was a Bacardi pitcher (an impressive technique employed in order for the troupe to gain inspiration and initiate their performance). Slowly a merry tune began to fill the room.
A strong introduction opened the musical. Led by James Lovelock the opening piece immediately broke the fourth wall between audience and performer, leaving the rest of the cast on standby. In sight, but side of stage, the nine cast members anticipated their first cue and thus the course of the mystery performance.
After a few warm up pieces, selected at random from the makeshift hat, the final piece was selected: ‘Dr Fisher of Genève’. A particular highlight was the inspired ‘Middle Isle of Aldi’. Initially a duet between Nick Charlesworth and Matt Cullane, the two composed a song, simultaneously, about taking ‘risk’ by buying from the dreaded middle isle of the supermarket Aldi; an experience every student living in Selly Oak could relate to and evidently found hysterical as laughter pulsed through the room. The ability to spontaneously burst into full song- alongside James Lovelock (keyboard) and Stuart Court (saxophone) – harmonising, singing in unison and maintaining newly established fictional relationships between the characters signifies the dedication and enthusiasm from the cast. This quality of performance, which is rarely assured within improvised performance, is a breath of fresh air and entirely in debt to the bond and rehearsal of the entire cast.
I wholeheartedly recommend attending one of the Baron Sternlook improvised musicals. Not only are you guaranteed a unique performance with every turnout, but you will undeniably leave with a smile on your face. With their desire to take the show to Edinburgh this summer swiftly approaching, I wish them every luck in succeeding to do so!
By Francesca Buckland