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An Improbable Musical announces UK tour and London run at Hackney Empire

An Improbable Musical: Ruth Bratt and company
An Improbable Musical: Ruth Bratt and company. Photo by Marc Brenner

Improbable’s An Improbable Musical is to launch a UK tour together with a limited run in London.

A collaboration with Royal and Derngate Northampton and fresh from its premiere in Northampton in February, An Improbable Musical will open at the Exeter Northcott on 26 September.

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The piece will then have a limited London run at Hackney Empire from 21 October ahead of a UK tour in spring 2023, including Gulbenkian Theatre (13 – 15 April), with further tour dates to be announced.

Improbable are maestros of improvised theatre. For three decades they’ve created make-it-up-as-you-go-along shows that have captivated audiences across the world from off-Broadway to the National Theatre.

An Improbable Musical is their first improvised musical piece and it develops a thread of work for the company through shows such as Animo, Lifegame and Lost Without Words which are improvised live but whose intention is not primarily comic (although they are often very funny).

Like other Improbable shows, An Improbable Musical seeks to expand the vocabulary of what we think improvisation can do by incorporating puppetry and material animation, movement and non-linear narrative structures (an inspiration was Ursula Le Guin’s essay #The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.’).

This is work that could be hilarious or heart-breaking, anarchic or eerily atmospheric but it is definitely essential viewing for anyone who likes their theatre as live as it gets.

The show is directed by Improbable Co-Artistic Director Lee Simpson (70 Hill Lane, Lifegame, Theatre of Blood, Comedy Store Players) who also performs. The cast of brilliant and highly experienced improvisers includes Josie Lawrence (Whose Line Is It Anyway?; Good Omens, Amazon/BBC; The King and I, London Palladium), Ruth Bratt (People Just Do Nothing, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical) Niall Ashdown (Tristan and Yseult, Kneehigh, Whose Line Is It Anyway?) and Aya Nakamura (All Wrapped Up, Oily Cart, Talking Rubbish, Theatre Rites) who also designs and directs puppetry in the production. Further casting to be announced.

The musical devisor and director is Christopher Ash (Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, The Borrowers, MAC) who also performs with versatile musicians Max Gittings on flute, Joley Cragg on percussion and Juliet Colyer on cello.

The show is designed by E Mallin Parry (Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Globe; Rotterdam. West End). The associate director is Angela Clerkin (Moll and the Future Kings, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse). Lighting design is by Colin Grenfell (Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of), Black Watch West End), sound design by Oscar Thompson (Rob Brydon Songs and Stories, UK Tour) and Will Thompson (Salome, Southwark Playhouse), and movement direction by Pauline Mayers (What I Told You, UK tour).

For more information and tickets, visit improbable.co.uk

Lee Simpson, co-artistic director of Improbable said: “Some of the best bits of any show the audiences never get to see – beautiful moments of discovery, fresh minted gags, a story coming alive for the first time – all of happens in the rehearsal room. Less of a secret is that you never see the worst: dead ends, duff choices, bits that don’t fit.

“With this new production, we put it all on the stage: triumphs, disasters, the wonderful and the what-the-hell? How? By improvising from scratch a new show every night with story, song and puppetry conjured from the unlikeliest materials and every moment of creation (or lack of it) witnessed. This is not an attempt to improvise the “classic” musical but an unapologetic experiment in starting with nothing and seeing where the night ends.”


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