I'm a writer with a love of young adult novels, musical theatre and vegetarian food.
How does an improv group create a musical on the spot?
Do you want to be the star of a musical? If you're lucky, Vicarious Cabaret will pick you from the audience and improvise a brand new musical all about you! After a sold-out season in 2018 Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide's own musical improvisational comedy group 'Spoonerise This!' is ready to bring a musical to life (and death) before your eyes.
I talked to Mitre Khammash, member of 'Spoonerise This!', about what is involved in bringing 'Vicarious Cabaret' to the stage.
Can you tell us about your role in 'Vicarious Cabaret' and who else is involved? I am one of the improvisers in our ensemble and I have also been producing the show on behalf of the group. Our improvisers include: Nick Munday, Eleanor Brasted, Elja Parsons, Ryan O'Dea and, with us this year for the first time, Kirsty Wigg. And Mitchell Bartel is our accompanist.
Tell us about the show! 'Vicarious Cabaret' is a cabaret based on our audience members. We meet people in the audience, and we find out what they do for a living then we become them and improvise an entire hour-long musical about their life in front of them. We had a sold-out season last year, the exact same concept, and we're bringing it back. Every show is different because of the different audience members. We don't know who will be there and we don't pre-plan anything because it is improvised. We're a local company and we all have been improvising for over two years. We're all from Adelaide and, as far as I'm aware, we're the only musical improv group in Adelaide. I think other groups will pop up and I'm a big advocate for it because I think it's magical.
For those who may not know, what is musical improv? It is improvising an entire story with characters and original lyrics to music. Making up songs on the spot, rhyming on the spot, it's as simple as that.
What happens with music? It's whatever is played. We can't preplan a single thing. It turns from underscoring to full songs. All of us are singers and performers. We're improvisers who can sing and we harmonise with each other when we can. We try to emulate a musical as best we can. Last year we met someone in the audience who's working role was working for the government kicking people out of their housing, so we became this person, we improvised this entire musical about this man who was booting people out of their houses and he was just laughing. It was so much fun. Since we improvise the whole show, we often don't remember what happens, what is said and sung.
How do you prepare for an improvised musical? We don't prep a single thing. The way that we rehearse is by doing it. Improv is a skill in working in a team and it's the ultimate level of teamwork. That's why improvisation is good for performers because your level of ensemble work has to be at a certain standard. With improv, it's how well can you adjust to your team members and how well can you read your team members' minds. You also have to keep up a character and performance. We have to have a storytelling ability to know where a story should go and having a hive mind, so you read each other's minds. There's a level of skill involved that we've been actively drilling and working on.
What's the difference between you and similar shows? The difference between us and, for example, Fringe show Baby Wants Candy is in their show you shout the name of a musical and they do it. With us, we based it off characters. That's the simple difference but there's obviously different skills, and different styles because we're Australian and they're American.
Is there anything else that you'd like our readers to know about the show? Please come support us and see 'Vicarious Cabaret'. We all are doing what we love. We obviously wouldn't be doing it if we didn't love it.
Vicarious Cabaret will be performing at Live From Tandanya March 6 to 10 at 9:15pm. Keep an eye out on their Facebook for a chance at promo codes for discounted tickets. Click this link to save it your Fringe favourites.