OFF BOOK The Musical

Little Andromeda, corner of Gloucester St and Colombo St, Christchurch

03/11/2018 - 05/11/2018

New Athenaeum Theatre, 24 The Octagon, Dunedin

28/03/2019 - 30/03/2019

BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

10/10/2019 - 12/10/2019

Dunedin Fringe 2019

NZ Improv Festival 2019

Production Details

Impulse Theatre presents Off Book – The Musical 
An evening of hilarious songs made up on the spot! The perfect after-work pick me up! 

Following on from their hugely successful show ‘Strangers’, the cast of Impulse Theatre (including improvisation veterans Jonathan Briden, Joanna Prendergast, Debbie Klausen, Greg Hubbard and Mark Darbyshire) are teaming up with musical genius Michael Bell to create an hour long fully improvised musical that is sure to delight and will send you home humming tunes that no one has heard before.

Starting with a randomly selected job from a career guide, this cast of comedians create a fully improvised musical that will knock your socks off. The performers are remarkably talented, and the songs they create in the moment, will astound you – ranging from deeply emotional and heartfelt, through to the sublimely silly. You’ll be laughing and crying, and sometimes unsure which to do.

Musicals are exciting, full of energy, and deeply emotive. But what happens when there is no script, no score? Every song is created in the moment, fuelled by emotion and driven forward by the power of the music.

In their new show, ‘Off Book: The Musical’, Impulse Theatre are taking musical to the next level. Come see the musical no one has ever seen before – and will never see again!

Little Andromeda, Christchurch  
Saturday 3 November 2018, 5pm
Monday 5 November, 7pm
with more dates to come

Off Book: The Musical was amazing! Walked out with a sore face from all the laughter” – Audience Review

“There are some very funny sequences. Songs are delivered with confidence and wit” – Erin Harrington Theatreview.

“Quick thinking, lively and courageous improvisers” – Terry MacTavish Theatreview.

New Athenaeum Theatre, 23 The Octagon, Dunedin
THU 28 – SAT 30 March 2019
$10.00 – $15.00
*Fees may apply 

NZ Improv Festival 2019  

BATS Theatre: The Random Stage
10 – 12 October at 8:30pm
Full Price $20
Concession Price $15
Group 6+ $15
Full Price Season Pass – 3 shows for $45
Concession Price Season Pass – 3 shows for $36

The Random Stage is fully wheelchair accessible; please contact the BATS Box Office by 4.30pm on the show day if you have accessibility requirements so that the appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.

Aaron Jelley, Amy Bowie, Ciarán Spender Searle, Debbie Klausen, Greg Hubbard, Joanna Prendergast, Kylee Amer and Mark Darbyshire

Live music performed by Michael Bell  

NZ Improv Fest 2019 


Greg Hubbard

Bethany Miller

Mark Darbyshire

Joanna Prendergast

Debbie Klausen

Jonathan Briden

Musician: Liam Kelly

Theatre , Musical , Improv ,

No show Sunday

Trusting, adapting, creating, captivating

Review by Roslyn Hart 11th Oct 2019

This show is for people who like sporadic singing coupled with witty one liners and original story lines.

I admit that it took some persuasion to convince my sister to come to this show with me. On the mention of the word ‘musical’ I sensed a squeamish feeling growing in her. Overly dramatic long drawn out singing conversations are not her cup of tea, nor mine either. However I knew this show would be good. Why? Because it’s improv.

Musician Liam Kelly starts the show playing the piano. This guy loves playing the piano. He is living for it and I am living for him living for it. The rest of the cast arrive, they don’t introduce themselves. Drats, I am going to have to Facebook stalk them later or ask Matt Powell to help me out with the names again.

A cast member steps forward and asks the audience to pick a number. Number 26 is yelled out. They open a book to page 26 and read out a word that will be the theme of tonight’s show. The word is Illustration. Welcome to tonight’s show – Illustration the musical.  

In this long form show we unravel characters in a hilarious situation of a terrible father and husband (Greg Hubbard) who is going through a divorce and unabashedly reveals he has three children, all to different mothers. His old school bitter divorcee wife (Joanna Prendergast) and the three children start to discover their connections in a comical and awkward manner. There is the sweet and innocent daughter (Bethany Miller), his computer loving son (Mark Darbyshire) and illustrator son (Jonathan Briden).

We have an angel (Debbie Klausen) that is brought to life via Johnathan’s illustration and new-found computer skills. This tragic angel is watching over the children in the family (well sometimes that is). All of this of course is accomplished through song.

The music initiates the singing in the scenes. The star of the show is Liam. The harmony between Liam and the rest of the cast is flawless. Liam is poised like a cat ready to pounce on the keys – ready for when the moment strikes. He knows when to lift the energy, to soften the energy, when to draw out the energy. He is setting the tone perfectly in every scene.

This is a great cast that is comfortable working together. Trusting and adapting, they are creating captivating scenes, I am hanging on every word. I am blown away that they can make up songs on the spot. They are funny, witty and complementary to each other.

This show is worth seeing and yes, my sister likes it. 


Make a comment

Provokes peals of giggles and chokes of sympathetic or appreciative laughter

Review by Hannah Molloy 04th Apr 2019

Off Book – The Musical is 50 minutes of random and very funny segues. The cast begins by asking the audience to choose a number, and then reads the job description from that page in the book – the show becomes PR – The Musical. The cast of five become Margaret, the mother who wants her son to be cooler; Simon, the son who is a statistician and not cool; Rachel, the sweet but daffy flatmate; Triple J/Shady69 who has invented ‘speed running’, an Olympic standard event that is basically playing video games as fast as possible without looking at the screen (he flats with Rachel); and The PR Guy, who is commissioned by Margaret to fix Simon.

The characters slip on and off stage, mostly in pairs, with the pianist giving them a cue to launch into song at an unexpected moment. They look as though they’re having fun and this charms the audience into peals of giggles and chokes of sympathetic or appreciative laughter.

As only to be expected, there are moments of blankness and non sequitur and several storylines emerge and disappear but the show is entertaining, a great way to start an evening of Fringe Festival performances.  


Make a comment

Creativity, collaboration and cool-headed adaptability

Review by Erin Harrington 03rd Nov 2018

Impulse Theatre’s show Off Book: The Musical offers a long-form improvised show, with song and dance, that uses a profession as its sole prompt. An audience member randomly selects a page number in cheery looking careers manual, and we are treated to Geoscientist: The Musical, something very appropriate given the week’s seismic activity. 

The show uses a demanding open format, starting with a handful of loosely related independent scenes and then weaving them together. In this case the prompt inspires a story not just about the impact of a rumbling volcano and the way that it inspires passion between random strangers, but also the love between a nefarious scientist, his former protege and their mutual obsession with calculations.

Although the show sits within the Comedy Carnival, and the format emphasises story over jokes for joke’s sake, there are some very funny sequences. Songs are delivered with confidence and wit, and there is a clear sense of world-building.

The show works best for me when the performers are clearly listening to one another and responding to each other’s offers, and when dramatic momentum and story beats emerge from the characters coming into conflict or allegiance with one another. It takes a little while for the troupe to establish their characters and their desires, but once a few promising connections have been established the show leads to a dramatic, character-driven conclusion, where most characters get what they want before everyone is swept away by a lava flow.

The show takes place in Little Andromeda, a pop-up venue that’s running for six weeks in central Christchurch, and the bare bones stage, live improvised keyboard accompaniment, and responsive lighting offer a great blank slate for the performers.

What’s more unexpected is the gale force Nor’wester, which necessitates an unplanned interval and a cautious evacuation as the gusts get close to the pop-up venue’s tolerance. The performers deal with it all with admirable professionalism, first incorporating the shaking tent and the roaring wind as evidence of an imminent eruption, and then staging the second half outdoors. This means the show is cut short and, I suspect, it doesn’t reflect the format’s full potential.

Nonetheless, the troupe demonstrates creativity, collaboration and cool-headed adaptability – improvisation in the best sense.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council