Matt and I just went to one of the Grand Opening performances at the sweet new performance space Curious Theater.
The Location. It's in a fantastic location (how did they get that space?) on NE MLK, between Alberta and Killingsworth in the VanPort Square Plaza along with the new locations for Horn of Africa and Old Town Pizza. It's also across the street from the The Blazers Boys and Girls Club with whom Curious Theater company has struck up a cool youth theater program. I appreciate that the company has already made connections with the existing community. I hope they can continue to build partnerships that are inclusive and accessible. Material that's come from that partnership will be showcased in a show tomorrow called Sometimes Toilet Water.
The Theater. The theater that they've built out so far is great. A decent sized stage (though a bit small for the eight-person improv troupe that performed there tonight), cabaret style seating, and concessions that includes beer and wine, sandwiches and snacks. It reminds me of theaters in the Chicago theater and comedy scene that are conducive to having a full night out with your peeps and liquid enhancers to making the shows fun and funny.
The Improvised Musical. The show that we saw was called Sam Adams! Sam Adams! Mayor Ex Machina. It was a fully improvised musical show complete with live musicians. The tag line is "We know Sam Adams will save our city, but can he save our musical???" and that's exactly what the character of "Sam Adams" attempted to do, and with moderate success. In general, I would say that I was pretty impressed with the show. Improvising is challenging as it is, and adding musical numbers is a special test for the hearty improvisor. The company was quite successful in delivering a fun, entertaining show, with a decent story, respectable musical numbers and some pretty great performances.
To start, an audience member provided the inspiration of "rodeo." The beginning of the show was a little rough for me (which I find is often the case for long-form improv theater) as the group searched for the characters, the story and an opening song. Two of the characters eventually emerged to be the protagonists: a cross-dressing ex-rodeo clown, rodeo princess wanna be and a toy-horse-playing 5 year old with a borderline uncomfortable relationship with her "Manny" (Male Nanny) and disturbed toy-horse-playing parents. The performers were committed and supportive of each other. There were some really nice moments throughout, as well as a few forgivable rough patches. As with the opener, the closing number was a little, let's say, long, but that's how this whole' improv thing works. Part of the fun and interactiveness of an improv show is how we as an audience are constantly rooting for the improvisors. We appreciate the risks that they're taking, the process that they're working through, right there in front of our eyes. We know that it's a brave thing they're doing and we're there for them.
All in all, I highly recommend this show! Especially if you're a fan of musicals and especially if you've never seen a fully improvised play. Sam Adams! Sam Adams! runs Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30pm through November 8. All shows are $12 general, $10 students/seniors and you can save $2 with one of the postcards.