Saturday 1st April – 9.00pm
Music Box: The Improvised Comedy Musical
Founded in 2009, Music Box are one of the longest running improv companies on the UK comedy circuit. A five star show, the current cast includes names from some of the UK’s most notable improv companies including The Maydays, Impromptu Shakespeare, TheatreSports ™ and Glitch.
Music Box make up a different one act comedy musical every show based on the suggestions of a ‘title’ and a ‘location’ from the audience. Songs and lyrics are plucked from thin air and stories and characters are created on the spot. Hilarious past locations have included Blockbuster Video, the Death Star, a Wetherspoons pub, and The Orient Express.
Music Box have monthly residencies at Hoopla Impro Comedy Club in London Bridge and The London Improv Theatre, Hampstead. Since 2010 they have performed at several other theatres and festivals across the globe including sell out runs at the Edinburgh Festival and Espontâneo Festival in Portugal.
They are delighted to be returning to perform at Improfest for the fifth year running!
★★★★★ "Music Box keeled the crowd into fits of laughter" - TenEighty Magazine
★★★★★ "Music Box is a brilliant idea that creates a wonderfully zany show" - Reading Post
★★★★★ "Lively, sharp, superior improvised fun!" - Remote Goat
★★★★★ "Unlike their big-name rivals, Music Box do improv without a safety net. There’s no director, and no going back on that blurted-out line. The possibility of failure is real, but – like watching a high-wire circus act – it’s that very sense of danger and shared adventure which makes it funny and rewarding. And Music Box nail it every time. The ensemble’s members can turn their hands to a vast range of musical styles, from the tense spine-tingler through to power ballads and upbeat hip-hop. You won't be disappointed" - Fringe Guru
In summer 2009, James Witt met Rebecca Gibson (formerly of the Oxford Imps) at a workshop for The Showstoppers. They decided to form their own improvised musical group without an on-stage director, having been inspired by two groups they’d seen perform at the Edinburgh Fringe the previous year: ‘One Night Stand’ and ‘Baby Wants Candy’.
Soon after this, Becca recruited Steve Roe (Hoopla), Georgina Bream (Hoopla), Maria Peters (Breaking and Entering) and Chris Mead (Project 2). Over the next ten months they met up weekly and their very first show was performed in April 2010, at The Black Horse in Rathbone Place.
Since then Music Box has enjoyed a rich and talented cast of improvisers in its ensemble including Amy Bailey (Vikings), Katy Schutte (The Maydays) Jonathan Monkhouse (Project 2), Jules Munns (The Nursery), Charlotte Gittins (Austentatious), Herman Gambhir (The London Jam) and Lauren Shearing (Showstoppers).
Such is the awesome arson of past and present cast, in April of 2015 Music Box threw a huge party at The Miller to celebrate their fifth birthday where they performed a one off show featuring a 17-strong cast of alumni.
Since those halcyon days at the Black Horse Music Box has had the honour of performing at a host of amazing festivals and venues including: Red Chord Theatre (Clapham), The Old Vic Tunnels (Slapdash Festival), The Troubadour (The Earl’s Court Festival), London Zoo (part of Zoo Lates), Espontâneo Festival of Improvisation (Portugal), Wildhart, Reading Fringe, Brighton Fringe, The Shaw Theatre (Camden Fringe), The Roundhouse (Accidental Festival) The Cockpit, The Lost Theatre (Theatresports) and a sell out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010. They’ve also performed alongside Olivier award winning, West End and Broadway super stars, Mischief Theatre at their night, ‘Lights, Camera, Improvise.’ And at their birthday party in April 2015, they were joined on stage by sketch trio Birthday Girls and Project 2.
Cast: includes James Witt (Artistic Director), Rhiannon Vivian, Andrew Gentilli, Tom Hodge (Musical Director), James Irving, Francesca Reid, Rory Vieyra, Rachel Lyons, Lewis Harrison Barker and Ben Hamblin.
What are your top three tips to be a good improviser?:
Always try and make your scene partners look good. Take your focus outward and support your cast mates. Before a show we each say what we’d like out of the performance, which could be ‘sing an emotional ballad’ or ‘do some sexy dancing’. It’s then our scene partners job to try and help to manifest this.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Often doing something risky is what the audience want to see. Aim for the impossible and enjoy missing it. Improv godfather Keith Johnstone talks about ‘happy failure’ a lot in his books. We try and fail happily whenever we can! We’re always there to catch one another if we fall.
Have fun. That's the aim for everyone. We like to tell two stories. The surface narrative between the characters in the story but then a secondary subtext between the actors. Our group mantra was inspired after a workshop with Al Samuels of US long form musical group Baby Wants Candy. "Follow the funny and feel the love".