Will Shakesepeare's Impro Musical
A wholly original, improvised, theatrical musical
based on Shakespearean plots and poetry
A cast of expert improvisers promise a fast-paced, tuneful turn on the Bard’s works as if Shakespeare met Sondheim. “Lord, what fools these mortals be… now send in the clowns!”
Imagine this! An audience member spins a giant “Wheel of Will”, a roulette wheel made of wooden planks and pegged joints. The wheel lands on a colourful card signifying one of 12 of Shakespeare’s best-known plays.
From this chance selection, the five member cast of Will Shakespeare’s ImproMusical (WSIM) then ask the audience for three things: an occupation, a location, and a time period.
The Musical: Using thematic material from the audience suggested Shakespeare play (based on the Wheel of Will play suggestion) the cast then craft an entirely improvised, one-hour musical complete with Shakespearean plot twists, larger than life characters and Broadway/West End style show tunes that the audience walks out humming.
What really distinguishes WSIM from many other improv Shakespeare shows is the attention to language usage, song structure, and character. The players are well versed in... well, verse, as well as prose and rhyming couplets, the difference between a soliloquy and a monologue and the aim to capture, as much as possible, the joy of iambic pentameter, Shakespeare's language, plots and characters. It takes a lot of work to improvise this stuff!
The show begins with the performers creating a strong 'ordinary world' location where a protagonist appears and is 'called to adventure'. Shakespearean mentors, helpers, threshold guardians, shadows etc. guide, motivate and inhibit his/her progress until an inciting incident forces our hero on their journey.
Of course our hero finds a romantic subplot (or else an extra comedic one), rising tensions, a mid-point triumph or tragedy, a true lowest point where it seems they will never reach their dream but this is, after all, a musical! A second half resolution is almost guaranteed, complete with songs that complement the emotion of the different scenes. There's some drama along with all this fun and games and though the show may appear to be a pleasing controlled chaos that owes its heart to the travelling Shakespearean players of old, the audience is guaranteed an emotional rollercoaster that the Bard of Avon himself would have been proud of!
Each song is completely original, there are no contrivances or rehearsals to build lyrics or music. Much attention has been paid to details of song styles and forms but this more than just parody. The goal with WSIM is to create to create great songs and story, not merely sub-Sondheim!
Always fun! Always fresh! WISM is a must see show that appeals both to intellect and silly at the same time!
Amongst other successes, Will Shakespeare’s ImprovMusical enjoyed a sold-out run at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in 2014 and was a sensation at Vancouver’s 2012 Fringe Festival.
The original ImproMusical was birthed in London at the Gate Theatre in 1987 with Alan Marriott and the artistic direction of Stephen Daldry, best known for directing the movie Billy Elliot.
“Thou wilt laugh, thou wilt cry, thy codpiece will runneth over.”