If you are in London this weekend then you are in luck as the acapella musical themed improv team are performing two very special shows – one at a brand new venue in Forest Gate and the other at Hoopla. I caught up with the team to find out all about them as well as find out more about their six new members.
Hello tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about your troupe!
Hi Holly, we’re so excited to work with you!
We are Acaprov: The Improvised A Cappella Musical, we’re based in London with a giant cast of 20, and we are aiming for West End/Broadway stardom and world tours!
3 little known facts:
1. We continued to rehearse online EVERY Tuesday throughout the lockdowns.
2. We cast 6 new players purely online!
3. We have a cappella improv students all over the world including Europe, India, Canada and The USA – soon to be launching USAcaprov!
How did your troupe form?
Lisa Lynn (our Director) founded the group after she won a grant from The Nursery Theatre to do so. Acaprov came out of their fantastic Nursery Originals programme. Lisa joined forces with CSI: Crime Scene Improv Co-Founder Lee Apsey (with whom she now Co-Directs Multiverse Impro) and the pair set about advertising the auditions. They picked 10 performers: 2 actors, 2 singers, 2 improvisers, 2 dancers, 2 beatboxers and then hired Tiziana Pozzo to teach them all Body Percussion. The rest as they say is history!
How did you come up with the name of your troupe? Was it difficult?
Acapella + Improv = Acaprov
(The back up name was Improvella, but it sounds both more ‘Cinderella’ Panto and more Novella so could be misleading. We may still use it for Christmas panto’s though)
How did you get into improv?
Acaprov is quite a few cast members introduction to improv. Because we hired some performers with no improv experience in order to have the calibre of acting, singing and beatboxing etc that we need for the show. Our more experienced improvisers helped to train up our improv newbies, while our professional singers in turn offer singing lessons etc – it’s a beautiful thing.
Lisa Lynn got into improv when she discovered SHOWSTOPPER! whilst performing the award-winning satirical show ‘UKIP! The Musical’ at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. That night she googled ‘making up musicals London’ and found the Multiverse audition on Facebook, learning on the job, as many of our cast now are.
How has the last year in lockdown been for you?
SO frustrating. Some wonderful improv can be achieved online; but spontaneously improvised (in time) harmonies in our experience cannot. We tried so many things to fight the lag, but other than one long held note (whilst others layer on one at a time) we couldn’t get online Musical improv to work for us. What we COULD do though was individual work and share that upskilling 1 at a time, or indeed record parts separately and layer on top of them individually, then edit it all together. Which is how our marvellous Christian Lunn and Beth Organ created our birthday music videos. That process is super popular on TikTok at the moment too – dueting any time any where by recording your part/track over theirs.
Another thing we COULD do (and continue to do) is online workshops. We were honoured to work with MOPCO (USA), ImproNeuf (Norway), HOOPLA, Hideout (USA), Highwire (USA) and Akon (USA) to deliver workshops and we hope to take the show to all of them IRL asap.
Upskilling each person in the 7 areas we work (rap, singing, improv, beatboxing, dance, acting and body percussion) and facilitating online conducting and scenes into song online, we found 2 people can just about account for thier shared lag.
Cast members Lara De Belder and Christian Lunn both offer online singing lessons which work perfectly 1:1. And of course we had non- Musical online improv to upskill all of our professional actors, dancers, rappers, beatboxers and singers – whilst getting to know everybody better. Cast members fed in skills picked up on other online courses like HOOPLA impro, North Coast and Impromptu Shakespeare – continuing to learn from eachother as always.
Our most exciting lockdown achievement was casting Adi, Adam, Sam, Charlotte, Donna and Matt – we can’t wait to show them off IRL!
It was also great to keep in touch with our out of London players, and keep checking in with eachother. We still have players in Yorkshire, Australia and The USA trying to get back.
Have you managed to do many online shows?
Sadly not. Though a couple of our prerecorded shows were delightfully shown at various online festivals (Amsterdam Improvathon, Extreme Improv etc) and our players took part in many online shows both improv (Extreme Improv, MOPCO Maestro etc) and non improv (A Midsummer Nights Dream, Shake the City etc) as well as a few of our singers releasing singles or albums (Lara, Christian, Beth) and Lara even wrote a musical! BIRD BRIGADE which is currently crowd funding.
And now you are returning to the stage!!! How exciting! What are you looking forward to the most?
The opening chord, and the ‘all singing all dancing’ closing number. We have been waiting too long – it’s party time!!!
With all the upskilling and hard work our cast have done, we’re coming back stronger than ever!
You also have six new cast members! Tell us all about them!
They are dreamy. This time around it was a closed casting (as the show has evolved we now know exactly what we’re looking for)
Matt Prestage is an experienced improviser from the Sheffield improv scene, who we head hunted from Will Naameh’s online RAP workshop for his exquisite flow.
Charlotte Gaughan is also an experienced improviser who we head hunted from BRA and Gamez. She sings with country soul and we LOVE it!
Sam Elwin is a professional actor/muso/singer (and photographer) who we head hunted from a HOOPLA beginners course after he was recommended by a cast member.
Donna Combe, a professional actor, came recommended too, from Billy Elliot West End; and did all of our online workshops, and HOOPLA online courses during the lockdowns.
Adam Courting (also a professional actor) was recommended by DTRS at HOOPLA and had attended the online Acaprov workshops and smashed them!
Adi George approached us; he’s ex-president of the Cambridge Impronauts and yet another graduate of the SHOWSTOPPER courses. He too did all of our online workshops and immediately felt like Aca-fam.
How did the show come about?
The show was the brain child of Lisa Lynn (HOOPLA, Multiverse, MusicBox, Hell Yeah!) who was in 2 scripted and 2 improvised musicals at the time, but longed to hear harmonious voices improvising a cappella. Lisa and Lee Apsey discussed it during after show drinks at the Edinburgh Fringe, Lisa had previously mentioned it to her then Multiverse Director Justin Brett (SHOWSTOPPER!) so she new it would be a challenge, but it was Lee’s faith in the idea that sparked Lisa’s application to The Nursery.
Tell us a little bit about the shows that are happening this week?
This Friday night (October 8th 2021) we are at a shiny new comedy and live music venue The Cider House E7, in Forest Gate and tickets are FREE! It’s an hour long set 8-9pm. You can reserve a table on their Instagram:
Saturday 9th we are back at HOOPLA doing a 25 minute set, sharing the bill with The Inflatables and The Actor’s Nightmare £9.75pp
We also have another IN PERSON WORKSHOP, this time in Bristol, November 13th 10am-1pm £20_25pp
What three things are you looking forward to about performing in this show?
Interacting with our audience
Showing off our new players
How do you warm up before a show?
We do a thorough vocal warm up (taken from the Royal ENT Hospital and our qualified singing teachers); a physical warm up and warm up our rhyming, rhythm, harmonies, emotional connection and spacework. Things like your love is like, silent scenes and space/time/love.
What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
Tesco on a tropical island was great because it gave us somewhere we know but opened it up too. Other favourites have been: a sleepy village; Disneyland-world-park; and a library.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We are @AcaprovMusical on Insta Facebook Twitter and TikTok
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Joy Singing Heart
QUICK FIRE ROUND
answers by Lisa Lynn
If you could have any three people (dead or alive) over for dinner – who would they be?
My Nanna, Grandad and Mum (so she could see her parents again)
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
You are enough (one of my best friends Sarah said it at the exact right time in LA)
Do you have any pets?
If you could be from any other decade (or era), which would it be??
Despite my cis gendered white-privilege there are not many great decades for females, plus my whole family were/are Northern working class – so possibly the 90s again before smart phones when labour were in power.
If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?
I’m a big fan of pretty words, so I’d probably go for ‘You are enough’, ‘Dare to be lovely’ or just a heart reminding me to find the heart in every character/scene.
That said if I was off on a MusicBox holiday and I drank though, it would probably be a picture of a Big Wasp because that’s the name of the made up improv troupe we pretend to be in warm ups and it kills me with laughter every time
What’s on your music playlists right now?
All musicals and my nieces favourite song ‘Shut up and dance with me’
I listen to Hamilton and the Guilty Feminist podcast most days (on the recommendation of Sarah Perkins who we call Sassy-P). IMDP, My Dad wrote a Porno and Electric Priests are also GOLD
New(ish) musicals I recommend: Be More Chill, Buried, 36 Questions, Next Thing You Know, Hades Town, Come From Away, Ordinary Days, Amelie – SO many good ones.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Ideally a previously unknown working class actor- I know so many great actors that just don’t get a look in. If we’re going for a celeb: Reese Whitherspoon or Anna Kendrick – they’re all up in my casting bracket, so whoever could do the best northen accent.
If you had one superpower, what would it be?
To control time, I just never seem to have enough of it!