Back in November, musical improv trio Suggestical (Rick Horner, Claire Halberstadt and Zach Wiseley) held auditions for a new project, intending on a single March performance. But after weeks of fun times working with the group and imparting the knowledge they’d gained from training at The Magnet in New York and their adventures as Suggestical, they’ve decided to make it a regular thing: Interrobang?!
Interrobang?! (Fred Brown, Joe Gates, Claire Halberstadt, Dan Higgins, Rick Horner, Wendy Lenhart, Alejandro Morales and Zach Wiseley) make their debut TONIGHT at Polygon. Here are the newer-to-musical-improv cast members answering some questions posed by their elder musical improvisers, to give you more background on their experiences joining the group and working on the show:
What does musical improv mean to you?
Wendy Lenhart: It means that making up songs in the back of the bus as a kid wasn’t just something that annoyed my poor bus driver.
How did you find out there were auditions happening for Interrobang?!
Joe Gates: A little bird told me. We sang a song about it on the way there.
What would say is the difference between musical improv and improv improv?
Fred Brown: In musical improv, because it requires a clear narrative arc, I feel more pressure to get to the point sooner and to complicate less.
What questions are driving you at the moment based on what you have done?
Alejandro Morales: By and large, I don’t ask myself many questions. Mostly I command myself to do things that scare me, and leave as little room as possible for second-guessing. I bully myself through life, essentially.
Are you using your musical skills to tell stories, or are you using improv to make your music be more effective?
Wendy Lenhart: In my case, I have been honing my musical skills for a bit longer and with more confidence, so it’s really been a nice base for me to improve my improv skills. It makes my brain work a little overtime, but it’s a crazy mad rush.
Normally a musical has actors and directors and playwrights who take huge care with their words. So how does that work in improv musicals?
Joe Gates: I’ve been behind the wheel in all three of those instances. I can remember struggling with lines, encouraging actors to add the right nuances as they deliver theirs’ and sleepless nights editing and reediting a scene. In some cases the first way you did it is the one you come back to. In musical improv, you’ve got to trust yourself as all your choices are first choices and the only ones you get. When you care enough, the right words always come to you.
Fred Brown: Everyone is constructing the scenario together at the same time, rather than people reacting to a pre-set text, long after it’s been written. How do you avoid stepping on each other and still be heard? Read the subtle cues from others that indicate that they’re about to speak or sing or step forward; when I’m about to speak or sing or step forward, I try to indicate it boldly and clearly.