Duofest begins today

09/30/2010

Tonight marks the start of the first ever DUOFEST, hosted by the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER and taking place at the Shubin.

This weekend explores the joys of duos… two person improv that until now has never appreciated this level of attention. Kudos to the producers for locking in on a unique theme and creating a playspace for this abundant but underdeveloped corner of the improv world.

Audiences have four days of twosome love to take in, and there’s a lot of talent that’s going to be represented on stage through the weekend. You’re likely familiar with a lot of the local ones… the longtime partnership of Whipsuit, the organically fresh Amie & Kristen Show, the one-man duo with an audience member M@&, the newly retitled Rosen & Milkshake and even an old school reunion of Holmes/Maughan. All of the acts promise to be excited and fun-filled, but because weekend passes are long since sold out and I love lists, I’m giving you my picks of new, exciting and different duos you may not know about but probably want to make a point of checking out this weekend.

THURSDAY PICKS

Toy Soldiers
Kelly Vrooman & Alan Williams

Kicking off the list and performing tonight are Toy Soldiers. These are two local improvisers very dear to my heart, not only because I’ve played with both of them regularly through the years, but more so because I’ve been in the audience watching them. They’re individually fun to watch, and I’m really excited for the debut of them together in a premise that plays exceptionally to their strengths.

Gay Boy / Straight Boy
Steve Kleinedler & Dana Bein

Closing out opening night is this duo from Boston. As the title might suggest, one is gay and one is straight, but most importantly, both are hilarious. I’ve been able to play with Steve on numerous occasions, and he’s always a delight. Although I haven’t climbed on stage with Dana, he’s a joy to watch and makes some surprising choices. I’ve been waiting to catch them together in this show, and tonight I finally get to.

FRIDAY PICKS

The Cascade
Rick Andrews & Jenny Dunne

Rick is a Duofest producer and brings with him a long history of improvised stage work, starting out at ImprovBoston and continuing up through his current work with Magnet, where he met Jenny. Although she’s newer to the craft, she’s had the opportunity to dive in and train with some of the best NY has to offer. Now watch as these two carefully explore the nuances of perspective and change, reliving a single moment over and over, discovering how subtle choices define consequence.

Grandma Hates Technology
Mike Weiss & Jessica Weiss

A father-daughter act that is as quick and clever as it is adorable. They brought the house down and wowed audiences at PHIF last year, and since that time have been on a streak, killing stages at festivals all across the country. Anyone that has any doubts about Jessica’s age surely hasn’t seen that girl take on solid adult personas and bust out shadow characters with the best of them. Truly a unique show not to be missed.

SATURDAY PICKS

Scout and Handsome Rob
Marcy Jarreau & Rob Penty

It’s no secret I’ve had an improv crush on Marcy for years, from her days conquering UCB’s Project Improviser, clear up to the present, as her all-female ensemble Bombardo continues to be a highlight of PHIF each year. In this show, she reunites with Megawatt Team X co-star Rob (sending out some Imposters love) for a duo that’s sure to be filled with strong characters and bold moves.

Snake Pitt
Jake Schneider & Jonathan Pitts

One’s part of Improvised Shakespeare and The Reckoning. The other created Storybox and runs CIF. These are two Chicago greats, just doing what they do best. Sit back and soak it in.

IMP
Asaf Ronen & Karen Eleanor Wight

Local audiences may be familiar with Asaf and his work he’s brought to Philadelphia in the past. A wonder on his own, when you put Karen in the mix for IMP, you get something that really jumps a few levels. Mostly devoid of spoken words, this commedia inspired clowning duo communicates more effectively with glances and gestures than many improvisers could hope to do with an arsenal of verbal language. Fluid character archetypes, combined with often poetic and always hypnotic visual storytelling creates something that isn’t improv… because it defies description.

Landry and Summers
Shaun Landry & Hans Summers

This duo are married to the stage and to one another. Both Second City Alums, both determined to show California how it’s done… first in San Francisco and now taking up residence in LA. 25 years improvising together is no small feat, and here’s a rare chance for folks on the east coast to see what that kind of shared skill, knowledge, intimacy and trust can create on stage.

SUNDAY PICKS

Hodapp and Rothwell
Dan Hodapp & Natasha Rothwell

Two fantastic and funny people who NY is very fortunate to have. They won Magnet’s Improv Duo Tournament in 2009. They won my heart long before that.

Adventure Squad
Kaci Beeler & Valerie Ward

I’ll be honest that I’ve heard nothing about this show, nor am I familiar with the improvisers. But the show description alone has my interest genuinely piqued. Closing out Duofest, these ladies play awkward, quirky pre-teens living through a single day of school. Nostalgia and cringing humiliation are apparently on the lesson plan, and attendance is mandatory.

There are dozens of other acts running throughout the weekend, and you can get the details on all of them on the Duofest website.

FIRST ANNUAL DUOFEST
PHILLY IMPROV THEATER @ THE SHUBIN
407 BAINBRIDGE ST, PHILADELPHIA
SEPT 30TH – OCT 3RD

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Comedian Profile: Alan Williams

07/08/2010

Editors Note: In this segment, we step away from the stage and take a look at comedians in the Philadelphia area… Learn a little more about where they come from, what they do while not performing and of course the question we all ask ourselves… Why do we do it?

ALAN WILLIAMS

Might have seen him in: The N Crowd, Ladies & Gentlemen, Meadowbrook Public Library Storybook Players (2nd place overall for 2010 Troika)

Hangs his hat in: Old City

Stomping Grounds: Ithaca, NY

Pays the Bills: Biopharmaceutical Marketing

Other Hobbies: reading, writing, ‘rithmetic… and karaoke

Why Improv?

Improv is my sanity saver. When the drudgery of my day-to-day life starts to bring me down, improv lifts me up again.

If you know someone who you think should be profiled, we’d love to hear about them.


Opening Tonight: Rogers and Hammerstein Are Dead

05/13/2010

Tonight marks the long-awaited opening night of Ladies & Gentlemen: Rogers & Hammerstein Are Dead, presented by the Philadelphia Joke Initiative.

Ladies & Gentlemen aims to create full-length completely improvised musicals, with each new run of shows paying homage to noted composers and songwriters of musical theatre. Future runs may well be inspired by the songs and lyrics of Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Gilbert & Sullivan.

First up however, are the darlings of the golden age, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein – known for such Broadway classics as Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The King & I, Carousel and The Sound of Music.

Over the last few months, the cast (under the direction of Jason Stockdale) has been completely immersed in the world of the famed songwriting duo, studying everything from song structure to character archetypes to dance styles – making sure that what they belt out is not only on key, but also on point. Every night will be a different musical, yet the goal is to have each one ring true to the musical tropes that R&H became so famed for throughout the 40s and 50s.

Ladies & Gentlemen features: Kennedy Allen, Mark Bringhurst, Olivia Brubaker, Olwyn Conway, Rob Cutler, Apple Milkshake, Joe Sabatino, Kristen Schier, Kelly Vrooman & Alan Williams.

The show opens tonight (May 13th) with a grand reception, and continues through May 29th.

LADIES & GENTLEMEN: ROGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ARE DEAD
PRESENTED BY THE PHILADELPHIA JOKE INITIATIVE
OPENS MAY 13 (w/ OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION)
THU-SAT @ 8PM, SUN @ 7PM –  THROUGH MAY 29TH
THE LATVIAN SOCIETY | 531 N 7TH ST | TICKETS: $12-$20


Tonight: Troika Grand Finale

05/06/2010

It’s been a hard-fought season with some incredibly tight competition, but tonight the stakes have never been higher. 27 improvisers have stepped up on stage to put it all on the line, and now the winners from each round vie for the crown. It’s Librarians vs State Witnesses vs Spanish Soap Stars – and only one trio will be called TROIKA.

R1 Winner: Meadowbrook Public Library Storybook Players
(Alan Williams, Amie Roe, Thomas Whitaker)

R2 Winner: Confidential
(N1ck G1lle77e, D@n R1ch, J@k3 B3ck3rm@n)

R3 Winner: Pasiónes de Pasiónes
(Mike Marbach, Ralph Andracchio, Andy Moskowitz )

TROIKA: GRAND FINALE
THU, MAY 6TH @ 9:30PM
PHIT @ THE SHUBIN | 407 BAINBRIDGE
$10 | BYOB

Advanced tickets available through the PHIT website.


N Crowd welcomes Activity Book tonight

05/15/2009

Tonight the N CROWD will welcome dear friends ACTIVITY BOOK to share the Actors Center stage.

Activity Book is a resident group of the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER, directed by Rick Horner and comprised of Kim Breslin, Kelly Jo Little, John Nolan, Jana Savini, Michael Schwartz, Jason Stockdale and Alan Williams.

ACTIVITY BOOK, PHIT RESIDENT GROUP

ACTIVITY BOOK, PHIT RESIDENT GROUP

THE N CROWD w/ ACTIVITY BOOK
FRIDAY, MAY 15TH @ 8PM | DOOR $15, ADVANCE $10
THE ACTORS CENTER, 257 N THIRD ST


New members debut this week at N Crowd anniversary show

04/21/2009

It was 4 years ago in a martial arts studio with a hand built platform, rented chairs, and two lights that the N CROWD first took the stage. This Friday they will celebrate over 200 shows with their big anniversary special.

The night not only celebrates their history, but also what’s to come, as the ‘Crowd will be debuting their newest members, Michael Cosenza, Ben Schindler & Alan Williams. Come on out and join them for a birthday show commemorating the past and the future… with no need to bring a present.

N CROWD 4 YEAR ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
FRIDAY, APRIL 24TH @ 8PM
THE ACTORS CENTER | 257 N THIRD ST
$10 | TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE


N Crowd adds 3 new members to roster

04/03/2009

The N Crowd has added three new members to the ranks of their weekly show. New to the group are Michael Cosenza, Ben Schindler & Alan Williams.

You might know Michael for his work within the local theatre community, in Tony & Tina’s Wedding, as well as a member of the former improv group Gurus of Guffaw.

Ben was an improv junkie back in high school, taking every class he could. After several years hiatus, he got the itch again and took the N Crowd’s class this past year and will soon find himself onstage with the folks that helped him scratch it.

Alan is probably know best among improvisers as a member of the PHIT team Activity Book. He’s also a well educated and travelled improvisers, having studies locally with PHIT and ComedySportz, but also with noted theaters like UCB & DSI.

The three new fellas are busy rehearsing with the N Crowd and gearing up for their debuts. Soon they’ll join recent debut Dan Rich and the rest of the ‘Crowd every Friday, 8PM at the Actor’s Center.