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So you think you can improv with the next top show?

Posted By Justin Quinn On October 21, 2009 @ 3:43 am In Arts and Entertainment | Comments Disabled

Students and parents alike gathered in the Lab Theater to see the South Stage improv show So You Think You Can Dance with the Next Top American Chef.

This annual improv production took place from October 1 to 3, each show different from the last. The show, directed by professional director Molly Martin featured six actors: senior Sharon Miller, juniors Cassandra Larrabee Liesl Matzka, and Lucy Ye, sophomore William Su, and freshman Raphael Kasobel.

The cast relied heavily on audience participation and interaction.

As audience members were ushered in to the Lab Theater, they were asked to fill out a series of three forms, not knowing then that their answers would play a pivotal role in the production.

“Improv cannot work without an audience because the audience provides the input. The audience adds fresh ideas to the show with their suggestions, Miller said.

Attendees answered questions about celebrities, worst birthday presents, and superhuman abilities, all to be used during the show.

Despite having no specific roles throughout the production, the actors let their talents shine by switching characters and adapting to the changing story line. The show was at its best when the cast let their distinct personalities come through.

“We did have a structure, but everything within the structure was improvised. We knew where the show was heading, but not who was going along for the ride, Miller said.

Cast members collaborated with the director to create the basic storyline, but the preparation differed greatly from other South Stage productions.

“It took us about one month to prepare for the show, Ye said. “We basically spent most of our rehearsals playing improvisation games, which was incredible. Those times were hilarious. We didn’t even really worry about using the structure or getting used to it until the last week or two before the show. Molly made it easy for us to put our ideas out and contribute the ideas for the show.

The stage comprised of only a few chains, a table, and a piano, enabling the actors to change scenes easily and spontaneously.

Illuminated stars provided an interesting backdrop on the black curtain in the background. Although the set up was sparse, it suited the impromptu nature of the show.

As the name suggests, the production loosely followed the process of making a reality television show.

The show started with a production meeting during which the actors attempted to come up with ideas for a new reality TV show, leading into the auditions.

The auditions for the reality show included many celebrities, such as Madonna and Robert Downey Jr. showcasing their “talents for throwing judges across the stage and spinning balls.

All celebrity names came from the audience polls, and the actors were clueless as to who they would be portraying until they were called up on stage, evoking wild laughter from the crowd.

Costumes, ranging from shimmering jackets to hats and sunglasses, were simple but effective in distinguishing the constantly changing characters.

The actors mentioned and poked fun at South Stage Technical Director Joe Grassia many times throughout the show, impersonating him during auditions and calling him a “poser.

While hilarious to people who know Joe, some of the jokes fell flat to the general audience.

The madness continued into a photo shoot for the show, an Access Hollywood interview, and eventually, a 20-year reunion show, where the actors reprised their funniest roles on the reality show.

Fights, flashbacks, and funny moments ensued as the characters interacted, to the delight of the audience.
By the last show, it was easy to tell the cast had bonded.

“We were really there for one another, Ye said. “Without all six of us, the show would not have been able to reach its full potential. We gave each other rides, cheered everyone up, shared ideas, and were even able to laugh at one another.

The cast interactions not only allowed the actors to feel more comfortable with each other off-stage, but also translated into a strong support system on stage.

“We knew each other so well that we would practically be able to predict what the next person would do on stage given a specific moment, Ye said. “We also knew how to help each other fill in awkward moments. It was a pleasure to work with such charismatically hilarious people.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/so-you-think-you-can-improv-with-the-next-top-show/

URLs in this post:

[1] Vaudeville meshes together diverse talent in one show: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/vaudeville-meshes-together-diverse-talent-in-one-show/

[2] South Stage show called off for first time in years: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/south-stage-show-called-off-for-first-time-in-years/

[3] Art Focus: Justin Danforth: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/10/25/art-focus-justin-danforth/

[4] A spontaneous start for South Stage: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/10/25/a-spontaneous-start-for-south-stage/

[5] This year’s freshmen put on a monster performance: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/11/25/this-year%e2%80%99s-freshmen-put-on-a-monster-performance/

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