Posts Tagged ‘broadway’
This month’s Director Series, “The Setup,” comes to us from the brilliant mind of Eleanor Lewis. Eleanor is most often seen on stage with Megawatt team Sexy Baby, but for the month of September, she’s sitting in the director’s chair, working with a special cast on a show of her own creation. We’ve interviewed her to find out more about the show and where her compass is pointing!
Tell us about the concept of The Setup. How did you come up with this idea?
First of all, thanks for having me. This studio is very comfortable and expensive-looking!
The Setup is an improvised one-act play where the audience designs the set – so, basically a monoscene with a theatrical style. A few months ago I was thinking a lot about my favorite improv shows and realized that the ones that stuck with me were always the ones that were either so funny they were unforgettable, or ones where the actors took their scenes seriously and took the time to explore the subtleties of their characters and relationships. The ones I still think about all the time have both – it’s something that a lot of really good duos have because they’re so patient and trusting with each other. They can be so silly and dumb, and then in the next breath extremely human and touching.I started thinking of ways to set up a show that encouraged this kind of improv, and the idea of giving the actors a designed set, just like in a real play, was the one that was the most interesting to me. I thought it would give the performers the sense that they could take their time and explore their world without giving them an explicit directive to form a narrative, or forcing them into being artificially dramatic.
Then I just had to pick a cast of strong actors who are also – and I hope they’re cool with me saying this – incredible weirdos. People who can do complete nonsense with gravity and a straight face, and love doing it.
How does the audience get to design the set for the show?
How is improvising with a set different than working without one?
Your show is an improvised one act play. What plays inspire you as an improv director?
I’m actually extremely ignorant and poorly-read when it comes to scripted theater, so my references are kind of limited. I think 12 Angry Men is a great play for clear and believable character behavior because each juror has such a clear perspective. I think it’s also a strong lesson for improvisers because the show wouldn’t work unless the jurors let themselves be convinced one by one. Even juror #3, who is never actually convinced, eventually goes along with a not-guilty verdict because he gets so worn down and upset. From an improv perspective, he follows the logic of his character all the way to the end but ultimately accepts the offer given to him even though it hurts and feels like a loss.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (the musical!!!!!) is great because the characters are all super smart and capable, but get into extremely stupid and absurd situations anyway. The show is so good because nobody seems to know that what they’re doing is funny or that they’re in a comedy at all, so you have things like a guy singing “love is my legs/ and you are my love/ so you are my legs/ my love” from the bottom of his heart while a woman holds back tears.
If you could do improv on the set of any play you’ve ever seen, what would it be and why?
I’d love to improvise on the set of Hamilton because that means I get to be all smug right now and say I saw Hamilton. You guys, it’s good! Also the set of Clybourne Park because there are so many sub-spaces to explore within it (the garden, all the upstairs rooms, the main foyer, etc) and because the set itself had so much personality.
The Setup is playing every Thursday night in September at 10 pm, as a part of Thursday Night Out. Don’t miss it!
Opera singer turned full-time musical improviser, KIKI MIKKELSEN, joins us to talk about all of her shows, Edinburgh Fringe, and the challenges of writing. You can see Kiki doing musical improv nearly every day of the week with her teams and shows Vern, Public Pool, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, Premiere: The Improvised Musical, Blank! The Musical, and Baby Wants Candy. Kiki is a bonafide musical improv all-star and we’re so happy that she’s on the show!
Kiki and Louis settle in for the first real conversation they’ve ever had and they don’t know it at first, but they’ll cover a lot of ground. Tell me about yourself, Louis begins. We hear about how Kiki came to be a full-time musical improviser and a bit about her upcoming trip Edinburgh for its Fringe Festival, which will be her first time participating. With so much improv in her life, Kiki and Louis both wonder if she can possibly keep friends outside of improv. Don’t worry, it’s a question we all must face when confronted with the obsession that is improv!
We backtrack a bit to discover where Kiki hails from (PA) and where she went to school (OKC). One of very few improvisers with an opera degree, Kiki gives Louis a crash course in opera voice types and tells us a bit about how long they take to develop. She talks about getting into improv and comedy while still working on her opera dream and she throws down this hot take: improv people are more fun than opera people! Her story starts with discovering short form and comedy in general with her best bud Lindsay Calleran. It wasn’t long before Kiki was jumping into classes at UCB, The PIT, and Magnet. Within her expansive improv education, she speaks fondly of her very special Level One Musical Improv class at Magnet with instructor Michael Martin, leading Kiki and Louis to discuss the various overlapping micro-communities within the greater improv community.
Louis asks Kiki to talk about the litany of different shows she’s a part of and they begin with Baby Wants Candy, which is about as big as it gets in musical improv! Shell be heading to Edinburgh Fringe with BWC and talks about what shes expecting. She also talks about her house teams Vern and Public Pool, as well as the shows Premiere: The Improvised Musical, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, and Blank! The Musical. Find out what excites her about each show and how are they all different.
Exploring beyond her current penchant for musical improv, Kiki and Louis discuss the roots of her humor and desire to perform comedy. Kiki recalls that she didnt grow up watching a ton of comedy but then found Christopher Guest movies. Plus, Louis shares his secret dream with us. After revealing to Louis that she finds writing to be difficult to break into, he gives Kiki some inspiration for writing and they talk about how to stay motivated. Finally, Kiki expresses her belief that building something together is always funnier than working alone.
- Baby Wants Candy
- Blank The Musical
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival
- fringe festival
- Happy Karaoke Fun Time
- Kiki Mikkelsen
- Lindsay Calleran
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet training center
- Michael Martin
- musical improv
- musical megawatt
- new york
- new york city
- Public Pool
- Upright Citizens Brigade
The Magnet is thrilled to announce our new Musical Megawatt lineup! Come by this Tuesday when all six teams will perform to kick off the new season!
New Team Chunky
New Team Smooth
Jason Scott Quinn
Auditions for Musical Megawatt teams will be held Saturday, September 28th, with callbacks on Sunday, September 29th. Musical Megawatt Teams are Magnet Theater’s House Musical Improv Teams. To be eligible, students need to have completed up to Musical Improv Level 3. To apply, please follow THIS LINK and fill out the form by September 16th. Confirmations will be sent out on September 17th. Break legs, everyone!