I needed a laugh and Songbuster: An Improvised Musical, a monthly show at Bad Dog Theatre delivered. The troupe takes two cues from the audience and improvises a musical from there, complete with solos, duets, and song and dance chorus numbers.
Songbuster has been doing their unique brand of improv for a while. They have had monthly events at Buddies in Bad Times and have performed at festivals such as the Tweed Winter Carnival. The December production was on theme with chaotic madness of the season. It was clear that the plan was to do a performance loosely based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Of course, the cast couldn’t possibly predict that the audience would give them a crematorium to work with. They all seemed very enthusiastic about the concept.
In this absurd retelling of the classic Christmas ghost story, a disturbingly cheerful, murderous undertaker has methodically robbed his love-starved children of holiday cheer. As far as he is concerned, the point of life is death, and no one can convince him otherwise. We don’t know our Scrooge stand-in is a murderer at first, but of course, neither does the cast.
It takes a special kind of performer to make up rhyming song lyrics on the spot that are laugh-out-loud funny to boot. Songbuster has assembled a team of this rare breed and honed the collective innate talent to a razorsharp edge. The story that unfolded was hilarious in its spontaneity. Of course, it was disjointed at times, but this was all part of the fun. The familiar framework made it easy to follow the way off cannon plot twists.
Given that the point was silliness and fun, I didn’t have great expectations of the singing. I was pleasantly surprised. The cast members all demonstrated impressive vocal chops while navigating the bizarre mash-up.
Songbuster is an important troupe to bookmark, follow, and like as a standing date night option on all social media platforms. As someone who is very seasonally affected by the dark, I appreciate a laugh at this time of year. With a run time of about an hour, it also perfectly reasonable for a weeknight outing. Unless you hate joy and laughter, you will have a great time at this show.
- Songbuster: An Improvised Musical is playing monthly at Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor St W).
- Showtimes are 9:30 PM on the third Thursday of the month.
- Ticket prices are $15 general admission, $10 students and arts workers.
- Tickets are available online or at the door.
Photo of company by Colin Scheyen