Full casting announced for An Improbable Musical at the Hackney Empire

Improbable are delighted to announce full cast and creative team for An Improbable Musical, a Royal and Derngate Northampton and Improbable production. Following its critically acclaimed premiere in Northampton this February, An Improbable Musical will open at the Exeter Northcott on 27 September before a limited London run at Hackney Empire from 21 October. It will then tour the UK in spring 2023, including Gulbenkian Theatre (13 – 15 April), with further tour dates to be announced.

Clarke Joseph-Edwards (Big Up, Tails of Sailortown, The Very Hungry Caterpillar live show) will join Aya Nakamura (Famous Puppet Death Scenes, All Wrapped Up, Talking Rubbish) who directs puppetry and performs, bringing to life an array of objects, puppets, and Improbable’s trademark materials like paper, and sticky tape. The show is directed by Improbable Co-Artistic Director Lee Simpson (70 Hill LaneLifegamePaul Merton’s Improv Chums, Comedy Store Players) who also performs in this production alongside a group of 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 MusicalNiall Ashdown (Tristan and Yseult, Kneehigh, Whose Line Is It Anyway?).

An Improbable Musical seeks to expand the vocabulary of what we think improvisation can do by incorporating puppetry and material animation, movement and music in a fully improvised show. It 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.

Lee Simpson, co-artistic director of Improbable said: “An Improbable Musical is different from most improv shows because it’s not an improv version of a well-known genre. This show starts from nowhere, could end up anywhere and has no idea how it is going to get there. That means each show is truly made by the people on stage and how they respond moment to moment. Even by improv standards this is a high wire act with no safety net.”

The musical devisor and director is Christopher Ash (Showstopper! The Improvised MusicalThe 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).

There will be audio described, BSL interpreted, captioned and relaxed performances across the run. See venue websites for details.

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. The company is also renowned for its use of puppetry. From studio shows such as Animo and Spirit that have played all over the world to the large-scale of Satyagraha (English National Opera), to the massive sticky tape insects  in the outdoor spectacle of Sticky or the upcoming My Neighbour Totoro (in collaboration with RSC) which sees the company collaborating with Jim Henson’s creature shop for the first time. Puppetry and manipulation of staple materials like paper or sellotape has always been a key part of the company’s work.


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