Check This Out: Figment Theater's "A Series of Dangerous Fools" @ Vox Populi

FB-Event_Series-of-Dangerous-Fools We just added two shows to the calendar for Thursday and Saturday. The last nights of a run of shows called A Series of Dangerous Fools features improv from Thomas Fowler & Mary Carpenter, with special guests. Produced by Figment Theater and running at the Vox Populi gallery on 11th Street between Vine and Callowhill, Fools is $5 bucks at the door and has different featured improvisers each night.

On Thursday night, check out The Chain w/ Erin Pitts (Pitts invites a fellow improviser to play, who in turn invites another, initiating a chain of invites creating a one-night-only ensemble) and Slasher Sorority (sorority sisters Cait O'Driscoll, Corin Wells, Kate Banford, Kristen Schier & Kristin Finger are stalked by mysterious killers Joel Sumner & Thomas Fowler).

On Saturday, it's John Hughes High Minisode 1 (the fictional world of John Hughes High is explored when Lucy [Kristin Finger] and Principal Hines [Kevin Regan] meet with an admissions recruiter from OSU [Thomas Fowler]), John Hughes High Minisode 2 - (Ox [Frank Farrell] and his father [Thomas Fowler] sit down for a meeting with Coach [Eoin O’Shea] to discuss some worrisome poetry that’s been uncovered), Fowler-Roney-O'Shea - (Thomas Fowler, Steve Roney & Eoin O’Shea unite for a special one-night-only set), and Origin Story - (Alli Soowal, Brian Ratcliffe, Eoin O'Shea, Joe Sabatino, Kelly Jennings, Kristin Finger, Mary Carpenter and Steve Roney and Thomas Fowler trace the origin of how a superhero is born).

Talkin' 'Bout Singin' with the Cast of 'The Sideshow Musical Revue'

This Thursday, The Sideshow continues on its mission to get performers to try new things and venture out of their comfort zones with a musical revue starring a cast of local improvisers—most of whom have little musical theater experience beyond karaoke at O'Neals."Trying different things is how I feel I've gotten better," says Mike Marbach, Sideshow creator and producer. "The more experience you get outside of improv, the more you're going to bring into your improv."

The theme of the show is love, from wanting it and trying to find it to hating it and decrying it.  We went to a recent rehearsal and got to talk to a few of the cast members about the songs they'll be performing.

Kristen Schier (The Amie & Kristen Show, The N Crowd): One of the songs that I'm singing is the song "Alone" by Heart. I chose that one because I love to sing it in karaoke, but the reason I love to sing is because I've always wanted to be a rock star. But I never had the confidence to. I know this sounds corny or whatever but honestly doing comedy over the years and learning about confidence and teaching people that it's all about confidence has given me the confidence to sing the way that song requires and the other songs in the show require. I'm not the best singer, but I love singing and I'm still confident in what I can do. I don't think I could do it the same without having been taught that in the improv classes that I've taken and it's good to be able to step into a different medium, so to speak, and just run with it.

Erin Pitts (ZaoGao): I'm doing "There are Worse Things I Could Do" from Grease. It was a song I could sing decently I guess [laughs]. There will be a little bit of comedy throughout the show. In mine I think I'm just going to be singing—I hope people don't laugh at me if I'm trying to be serious about it! But as far as improv goes, I don't know if I'm really borrowing anything from improv, just the acting part and the being comfortable in front of people part.

Brett Knobloch (Asteroid!): I'm singing a song called "Making Love Alone." The song is about loving yourself. I figured everyone was going to be doing songs about someone else, so I thought it would be nice to do a song about yourself.  It's a song that was written for Bernadette Peters, and she did it on Saturday Night Live. It's sort of just a straight-up cabaret piece, and that's how I'm going to do it. It's almost like this pretty ballad—it's more suggestive than it is lewd. And that's why I like it, the humor comes from the subtlety.

Chris Caletta (Hot Dish): I'm doing "Earth Angel," from Back to the Future. I think it's a great movie. I am going to break down at some point [like in the film], and hopefully we can come up with a twist on it too, I'm not quite sure. I just wanted to try something different. I do music stuff too, so it'll be neat to bring it into the comedy realm and see how that goes.

Milkshake (Asteroid!): I don't have any musical theater background whatsoever. I'm singing "Love Stinks," which is more of a classic rock song. It's very disparaging of love I suppose; very teen angst-y. Mike thought it was really appropriate for me to do because of I guess when Asteroid! does [the improv singing game] "Hot Spot" in warm-ups. I'm not a J. Geils fan...but I guess I mock it well? I'm not mocking it but I can affect that in games that we play and comedic situations. I think what I'm supposed to do is break out of the very theatrical musical number [which precedes my song] and just sauce it up and be with the audience.

The Sideshow Musical Revue: She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not + Hot Dog is this Thursday-Saturday (April 11th-13th) at the Arts Parlor (1170 S. Broad Street). Show starts at 8PM. Admission is $5.

Ten Questions With...Erin Pitts

Erin Pitts is a member of new Philly Improv Theater House Team codenamed Shadowfax. They make their debut this Friday night at the Shubin Theater.

How and why did you get into comedy? I came to Philadelphia for graduate school in May 2010 and told myself that I was going to take advantage of all the opportunities this city has to offer. One of my goals was to some how get back on stage, I had done theater and a little bit of improv in high school and missed it tremendously, so I signed up for a PHIT level one improv class with Kristen Schier. Her enthusiasm and welcoming attitude were mimicked in every person I met in the comedy community, so I've been hooked ever since.

How would you describe your style as a comedian? What influences and factors do you think contribute to that? I don't know if I have a style, but it's definitely something I'm trying to figure out. I often give myself little challenges to improve, for example, I think I'm awful at miming, so I would make myself mime in every scene I did to feel more comfortable doing it.

Do you have a favorite show or venue you like to perform at? What about it makes it fun or special for you? The Shubin is the only place I've performed in Philadelphia; I really enjoy everything about it.

Do you have a single favorite moment in Philly comedy or one that stands out? I’d have to say, how smoothly my level 1 class show went. We we’re all a little nervous, I think mainly because we ended up only having 5 people left to perform with. It was a super fun show with a lot of different material and a reoccurring missing penguin (who later ended up being stuck in the bathroom) that really helped keep the show moving. It was great to see people from our class who would never be found on a stage in any other instance have a really great time in the spotlight that night.

Do you have any sort of creative process that you use with your writing or your performance? I focus on keeping my mind as open as I can to the endless possibilities that can be generated from a suggestion. And as Kristen always tells us… to never expect to do a scene, because you never know what’s going to happen when you step out.

What is it about improv (or stand-up, or sketch, whatever you do...) that draws you to it? I am such a worrier that improv is so freeing for me; it allows me to not think or hesitate before I act. I love how I feel when I just let go of any rationalized thoughts and allow my body to move before I know why it’s moving. And let’s be honest… when people laugh at something you do, that’s pretty cool.

Do you have any favorite performers in the Philly scene? Why are they your favorites? I love watching so many different people for so many different reasons! …I guess I’ll just answer this with some of my favorite shows to see.. The Amie and Kristen/Kristen and Amie Show, Jessica Tandy, Asteroid, Suggestical and Hate Speech Committee.

Do you have any bad experiences doing comedy that you can share? A particularly bad bombing or even an entire show gone haywire? I was in the premiere of The Gross Show... I think we all know what happened that night…during the segment I was in…

What do you think the Philly comedy scene needs to continue to grow? Exactly what it’s doing right now, which is generating new, enthusiastic performers through classes, workshops, festivals and the number of independent groups popping up. I think the family-like attitude of the community makes it an enticing one to be apart of, I don’t know for sure, but I feel like a lot of other cities don’t have what we have, and that’s a who lot of love and respect for another.

Do you have any personal goals for the future as you continue to perform comedy? I’d like to be sillier and smarter. I really want people to enjoy watching me perform, to feel at ease knowing they’re going to have a good time no matter what is thrown at me.