Posts Tagged ‘The Cast’

Tuesday November 28, 2017, 2:52pm - by Magnet Theater

A new Megawatt season began last month and, with it, a new Megawatt Director in Hannah Chase! Hannah has been an instructor and performer at Magnet for years now and, in addition to directing The Cast, performs every Thursday with The Music Industry.  We sat down with her to talk about her vision for Megawatt and to shed some light on the woman behind the curtain!

What are a few things you’re excited about for this upcoming Megawatt season?

I think Megawatt is in a really exciting place right now. We’ve got three new awesome teams and three existing teams that got new members. Even for the two teams without anyone new, the excitement of having fresh teams and players as part of the night definitely brings new energy to everyone on Megawatt.

What have you learned from the past Directors that you plan to carry with you to the future of Megawatt?

Oh man, I can’t say enough good things about Louis and Nick (the two previous Megawatt Directors I’ve had the pleasure of working with). Both of them brought such commitment, creativity, and warmth to the job (and to the night in general) that I can only hope to continue. To get specific, I am in constant awe of Louis’s thematic and philosophical eye when it comes to improv, and I deeply admire how much he pushed teams to be thoughtful about the overall presentation of their shows. Under Louis’s guidance, it didn’t just feel like we were doing improv, it felt like we were creating art that actually meant something. As for Nick, I continually marvel at his ability to inspire improvisors to genuinely play with each other. Megawatt can be a stressful place sometimes (unfortunately) and Nick did an A+ job at getting teams to gel, to support each other, and to truly play. These are some big shoes to fill, but I’m trying my best and will continue to!

Is there anything new that you’re hoping to bring to Megawatt?

I don’t think I can really claim this as “new,” but one thing I felt (and continue to feel) excited about is the idea of creating teams with a very specific style/vibe (or even a specific form) in mind. I’ve seen and been on lots of teams that felt like a perfect balancing act of improv styles and skills: a few big aggressive silly players, a few grounding and “actorly” players, a few folks with a sharp eye for pattern, and one or two improvisors who consistently use a wider lens to look at the whole piece in order to tie things together or enter toward the end with a walk on that is so perfect it feels scripted. The right balance of players on a team can create something truly great, and we’ve seen time and again that this works.

I’d heard it said before that it was inadvisable to create a team of players who all played similarly, and this always confused me. I can see that you wouldn’t necessarily want to make a team with eight players who all have the same limitations, but I think a team of eight like-minded (or like-styled) talented improvisors sounds genuinely thrilling. After all, the way we describe Megawatt to current and prospective students is a night in which you can spend four hours seeing eight completely different teams that represent a wide variety of improv and comedy styles. So…I wanted to double down on that! Long story [not so] short, each new team is made up of players with similar skillsets and the ability to play and [hopefully] have fun in a very specific style. Not to say that each team doesn’t have stylistic differences among the players, but we tried to match people who we thought would bring similar strengths, gel stylistically, and challenge each other to further hone those skills!

Who are the new Megawatt ensembles and what can we expect from them?

If you haven’t had a chance to see the three new Megawatt teams, You Are Missing Out. Here’s a little info about each one:

She Wolf was created to do organic improv, and they have taken to it like gangbusters. This is an exceptionally collaborative, playful, attentive team of improvisers. And they’ve been adding one organic skill/muscle/device each week, so the team is constantly evolving. If you saw them a few weeks ago, seeing them again will be a totally different experience. They’re doing weird stuff, in the absolute best sense of that word. Highly recommend!

Drama is the first Megawatt team in a long while to do an expansion. These eight improvisors are top notch actors who all excel at creating complicated, honest, unique characters that will somehow make you both laugh and care! In each show, they weave a web of lovable weirdos (in the absolute best sense of that word) and you’ll walk away feeling like you just saw an excellent, hilarious play. Highly recommend!

Scout is a fast, spunky, sharp-as-tacks group of improvisers doing a Harold. With a flare for the weird (in the best sense of that word), this is a group of truly unafraid and delightfully silly players who will jump on board anything and everything without hesitation. This is an ensemble that knows how to set each other up for success and laughs, and they do so effortlessly and with just the tiniest bit of snark. Highly recommend!

Can you tell us about a fond memory you have from your past as a Megawatt player?

When I first got onto Megawatt, I was horribly insecure and totally terrified (I cried a lot those first few months). That isn’t a fond memory, I know, but it’s true! But here’s the fond part: when I first got onto a team, I had so many people (lots of whom were veterans I’d admired from afar for years) reach out to both congratulate me and also offer up their ear(s) if ever I wanted to chat. I ended up taking a bunch of them up on that offer and was really grateful to connect with so many interesting people, many of whom had gone through similarly fraught adjustment periods when they first got on house teams. This shit is hard, man! And connecting with people who had been through similar experiences and had come out a-o-k was really helpful and meaningful for me. Megawatt isn’t just a collection of teams, it’s a community, and the generosity and support I received in those first few weeks has continued to this day. Sorry, I go sentimental real easy…did you want a funny memory? Once my team, TMI, did a super long tag run in which I got to actually slap each one of them in the face (!) over and over. It was totally bonkers but also felt ok because people were literally tagging in just to be slapped by me, which demonstrated the particularly high level of trust that’s always been present on that team. See, I made it sentimental again. Ugh I’m the worst.

Catch Megawatt every Wednesday at 7, 8, 9, and 10 pm, which two teams playing each hour. $7 for the whole night!

Thursday September 14, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

Who the heck are ya?

The Cast is a team of women at the Magnet that improvises plays, showing what is happening both onstage and also offstage during the performance. Sometimes we do special genres. Sometimes those special genres are insane.

How long have you all been performing together?

The Cast started as a Director Series in May of 2015, and was added as an official weekend show in the fall of that same year.

Who would be your ideal guest to perform with?

The list is long! To name a few: Tami Sagher, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Lauren Lapkus, Carol Burnett, Kate Winslet, Lucille Ball’s ghost, and of course Benedict Cumberbatch.

What was your second choice for a name of the show?

I had to search my email for it, but I think the working title was “Onstage/Backstage.” I also found a brainstorming email chain with Chrissie Gruebel in which we alternatively threw out these** additional gems: Behind the Scenes, Cause a Scene, Make a Scene, Line!, On in Five, Off and On, Between Scenes, Players, The Show Must Go On, Curtain Up, Everyone’s Period Just Started, The Spotlight, 15 Minutes, The Original Queens of Drama, The Thing, and Staged. **All but one of these is real.

What’s the best part about performing at Magnet Theater?

The Magnet is home to so many incredible, creative, interesting and supportive artists. We truly feel that this is a community in which we can take risks and be supported not only for the final product but for the risk-taking itself. That’s been essential for this show to thrive.

If there was a biopic about your team, what would it be titled?

We Like Each Other…Too Much

Describe the soundtrack to said biopic!

We’re pretty into Kesha’s “Woman” these days. Also, does she not spell it K$sha anymore? Why not? Also, we know this isn’t a soundtrack, it’s just a song. But it’s our biopic so we can do what we want. Get off our back.

What makes your group laugh the most?

Scheduling.

If you could have a mascot for your shows, who or what would it be?

A girl’s aged 9-12 soccer team just after they’ve had their oranges and have all that natural sugar racing through their veins.

When can we see you perform?

Every Saturday night at 10:30pm at the Magnet! And occasionally at improv festivals around the country and in Canada! It’s not that we’re opposed to going outside of North America, we just haven’t been invited anywhere else yet, hint hint hint.

Anything else you all want to add?

We do occasional bake sales to raise money for causes we care about. We also do a [somewhat] monthly jam for any and all female-identifying improvisers; they’re super fun, and we’d love to see you there! Also, coming to The Cast isn’t just about laughing (which you’ll do! we promise!) it’s also about being part of a brand new never-to-be-seen-again full theatrical production, put on by people who like each other too much and are all on their periods at the same time. Beat that.

 

Tuesday August 15, 2017, 1:40pm - by Promo Team

Alexis Lambright is a writer, storyteller, and cast member of Magnet ensembles The Wrath and The Cast. Alexis also hosts The Griot Show, in which she brings together a range of black performers and storytellers together around a specific theme! In anticipation of this Friday’s edition of The Griot Show, we spoke with Alexis about storytelling, “edutaining,” and pooped pants.

What makes a compelling story?
For me, the thing that makes a story compelling are the details. This is in no way profound, but I’m drawn to stories with a lot of details. Someone could be telling me about the time they pooped their pants in public, and I wanna know which city they were in, the surroundings, the time of day, the temperature, what they wore, what they ate earlier that day, and of course why they pooped their pants in the first place. All of those details allow me to see it happening (that’s not to say that I am obsessed with envisioning someone pooping their pants, I was just using that as an example). Anyway, I’ve heard some very detailed stories that made me feel like I was actually there.

How does your background as an improviser inform your style as a storyteller?
I think my improv background has allowed me to be able to recall stories pretty quickly. I’ve done shows were I had to come up with a story from an audience suggestion, which means going through my mental Rolodex of related stories. In the case of The Griot Show, I might have a story prepared, but maybe something from one of the performer’s stories sparks an idea that leads to a better story!

Your show features a variety of performers from different experiences and performance styles. Aside from improvisers and comedians, what other people have performed at the Griot Show?
Over the past three years, while I started out trying to keep the format to a traditional storytelling show, I’ve found that the show is really great when the performers tell a story through other mediums. I’ve had a video artist on who showed a piece that he directed, in which Harriet Tubman and other slaves were doing interpretive dance to Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U”. There have been poets who have shared stories through their work, a few performers have incorporated music into their pieces, and I’ve even projected illustrations from a book I wrote at the tender age of six about slavery. Yes, 6 year-old me wrote a book about slavery. One of my absolute favorite guests on the show was Mr. Dabney Montgomery, who served the U.S. Army Air Corps as one of the Tuskegee Airmen. When I tell you it was an honor, privilege, and just an absolute DREAM COME TRUE having him bless my little ol’ show, I am dead serious! He was phenomenal!

What inspired you to produce this show?
I was approached by Beth Newell (former Magnet Sketch Program head) about creating a show that would bring some diversity to the Magnet stage. I brainstormed some ideas and finally decided on a storytelling show for Black History Month. The first two times went so well, that people came up to me and said “have you ever thought about having the show more than just once a year?” The next show was on Juneteenth for its historical significance to African Americans, and eventually I did the show every other month. I’d like to make it a monthly show, but I need help either producing or hosting it.

You’ve been hosting the Griot Show for a while now. How has the show changed over time since you first started hosting it?
As I mentioned before, it’s been a little over three years since the show debuted. In the beginning, it didn’t have a specific theme- I just wanted to get more black people performing at the Magnet. Now, I will try to come up with a theme for the show, like “Juneteenth Edition”, “Pride Month+Loving Day Edition”, etc. Also, because I love it when a show is “edutaining” (educational and entertaining), I try to do black history or theme-related trivia questions with the audience. There are prizes, too!

Check out The Griot Show this Friday, August 18th at 7pm!

Wednesday January 4, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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kim-brown-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Youthful cast member, KIM BROWN, joins us to talk about training at multiple theaters, Gilmore Girls, the post-election Megawatt experience, and much much more. Hear about her Megawatt team YOUTHS as well as what it’s like to put on a show with The Cast.  She dishes about everything from hot celebrity gossip t0 her indie team Free Kittens, so you can rest assured that this episode explores the full breadth of humanity. Listen up!

Welcome to 2017! The Magnet Theater Podcast is back for another year of interviews and, this week, we have Kim Brown on the mic. Kim and Louis begin this episode discussing her writing gig at a popular website dedicated to celebrity editorials and hot hot goss. As he often does, Louis asks our guest how she got herself into acting and comedy. Kim’s origin story eventually lands her at UCB and with her beloved indie team, Free Kittens. We hear all about that, plus, she and Louis share some hot takes on which days of the week are best for taking classes!

After several years at UCB, and following a short break from improv, Kim began classes again at Magnet and had an amazing experience going through a second program. She details what it’s like to come back to take improv classes at another theater and why it was such a joy. Kim joined The Cast just after completing Team Performance Workshop and speaks here about how everyone on the team brings their own expertise to the show each week. Speaking of expertise, Louis and Kim get to talking about Gilmore Girls! As a Gilmore Girls expert on The Cast, Kim has much to say and Louis, who is only about three seasons in, also weighs in. This dive into the lore of Stars Hollow raises the topic of recreating something you really love and prompts a discussion on The Cast’s weekly process of paying tribute to a particular genre or theme.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Will Kim Brown ever take a musical improv class?” we have the answer! We find out what scares Kim about musical improv and her former love, musical theater. Kim talks to Louis about performing at Megawatt the night after the 2016 election and they wax poetic about comedy’s ability to help us during dark times. Louis asks about Kim’s Megawatt team YOUTHS and they have a rousing discussion about reframing the Harold to make it more fun and how gaining a bit of confidence can make you so much better improv. The episode concludes with a round of Getting To Know Each Other and a once-in-a-lifetime epilogue from Louis Kornfeld. Check it out!

Wednesday October 5, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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beth-slack-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A star on both Magnet and UCB stages, BETH SLACK, stops by to talk with Louis about her love of opera, how 9/11 changed her career plans, and why musical improv rules. Beth tells us all about her long relationship with stage performance and, how after taking a break from it for nearly 10 years, she came back to the stage by finding improv. She and Louis get to know each other and she does a wonderful scene with jar of pickles! See Beth weekly at Magnet with Premiere: The Improvised Musical, The Cast, and at UCB on Harold Night with Foxhole. Plus! This coming week she performs a live radio play with The Broadcast (10/10) and as a part of the New York Musical Improv Festival with Hansbury & Slack (10/13).

As a fantastic musical improviser, it might not surprise anyone to find out that Beth was originally trained in opera! She first moved to NYC about 15 years ago, three days before the events of September 11th took place. Understandably, her plans to “make it” in the big city were put on hold and she moved back to Ohio. Beth later returned to NYC to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, after which, she stopped doing anything artistic for about 10 years. She tells us all about getting into opera and vocal performance and how she went to boarding school for a year specifically to study voice. With her extensive knowledge, Beth enlightens Louis as to the differences between opera and musical theater. About four years ago, almost exactly 11 years after first moving to NYC, Beth signed up for an improv class and her world was changed again. She and Louis discuss how narrative plot functions in different styles of improv and they mull over the differences between tangible art and performance art. Digging further into improv theory, they discuss the pitfalls of over-agreement in scenes and how it’s perfectly okay to ask questions. Plus, Louis and Beth play some two-person hotspot and Beth performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles!

beth-louis-pickles

Tuesday September 27, 2016, 3:54pm - by Magnet Theater
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carly-monardo-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Animator, illustrator, and Magnet performer, CARLY MONARDO, joins us to talk about the links between her different disciplines, who her heroes are, and what drives good characters. Plus, she plays monologue hotspot with Louis and performs a serious scene with a jar of pickles. Carly started at Magnet with the Free Intro to Improv class and now performs on Megawatt with Metal Boy, on Magnet Sketch Teams with Dinosaur Jones, with her duo TJ & Blood, and every Saturday night with The Cast! She’s also created the artwork for dozens of different shows at the theater and helped drive the Magnet’s visual identity. Could she BE anymore wonderful???

Carly begins this episode talking about how she first became interested in improv by watching shows at UCBT and then seeing Musical Megawatt at Magnet. Her first class was the Free Intro to Improv class, which turned out to be a really good idea. Louis pauses the improv talk for a bit to ask about how Carly got into animation, graphic design, and art in general. She talks about having to take an acting class in college and how the lessons learned while studying animation have bled into her performance. They also attempt to answer the question of what drives characters. Is it all ego-driven? Louis can’t let the opportunity pass to ask Carly what she did on The Venture Bros., what her proudest projects have been, and who her heroes are! Plus, they throw a lot of shade (and love) at Sulaiman Beg. Our episode concludes with a wonderful round of two-person hotspot based on the suggestion of “a rose by any other color” and Carly performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. You’ll have to listen in because these two native Staten Islanders have a grand old time!

Wednesday June 1, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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Ali Fisher Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Queen of stage and backstage alike, The Cast’s ALI FISHER, stops by to talk about who we are as humans, why books are so damn cool, and the wonders of genre! Ali and Louis explore how cooperation helps humanity succeed, what Ali absolutely loves about her role as editor at a sci-fi, fantasy, and horror publisher, and why The Cast is so damn incredible. It’s a beautiful episode with beautiful people so just listen to it already!

Our heroes begin this fantastic episode by acknowledging confusion in the world and that we do not know the future. Ali talks about a Wait But Why post that she never finished and it gets them talking about humanity. Louis believes our sense of cooperation lifts us much higher than each of us would be capable of alone and Ali seems to agree. To make things even better, Louis offers up an X-Men analogy that fanboys should do their best not to examine too closely. They discuss the matters of self-awareness and asking, “Who am I?” to which we can only answer, “Evan, Producer.” The rabbit hole is so deep and glorious, we find Louis offering up a comparison between improv comedy and reincarnation.

Running in parallel to Ali’s life as an improviser on stage is her work as a fiction editor off stage. Louis inquires about Ali’s position as an editor within the young adult branch of a fantasy, sci-fi, and horror publishing house. She names some of the books from her past she’s found most formative and tells us what she looks for when reading new works. Similar to fiction, improv helps you examine unthinkable actions and experience unlikely thoughts.

Continuing their quest, Louis and Ali delve into the the topics of external expectations and destiny. Ali articulates the beauty of eating together while Louis pontificates on the nature of company. Isn’t it a little crazy how we all show up to improv shows just for the sake of being with people?

To round out this episode, Ali and Louis talk about the power of various genres, including comedy, and compare the entirety of Horror to the common feeling of stage fright. This leads them to discuss the genre-conquering show The Cast, with whom Ali plays every Saturday night, and to the establishment of Ali’s own personal genre.

Plus, Louis offers this challenge: “Identify with that, listeners!” Find out what it is!

Wednesday March 23, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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Devin O'Neill Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Get ready, because heartthrob DEVIN O’NEILL joins us to talk about her lifelong pursuit of comedy, performing for children, and how following your feet is the best! From The Cast to Sketch Teams to Megawatt and INSPIRADO, hear about Devin’s many comedic ventures and how she most prefers to approach scenework. Plus, a cameo from Ed Herbstman and Louis being an old man!

Louis begins this episode pointing out how nervous Devin seems to be. What’s she got to be nervous about? It’s just a podcast! All kidding aside, she quickly masters her fear in time for Louis to ask her about her favorite quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” On her way to discussing imaginary friends, Devin manages to insult Louis’ age and it’s good fun for all. Laughing off his obviously hurt feelings, Louis wants to talk about Florida, which is where Devin is from originally. She tells us of this odd and, at times, amazing state and then claims that she’s wanted to be a performer and comedian since she was three year old! Wow. And the best part? It’s true!

Devin has been performing for as long as she can remember and, in adulthood, spent time acting in a children’s theater company which toured throughout Florida. All this before she moved to NYC to do improv and create funny characters. She got into improv thanks to her friend and Magnet House Manager, Bimini Lee Wright, after watching a UCB class show and then seeing *Kiss Punch Poem*. Sorry, 101 class, but Devin ended up taking classes at Magnet. Circling back to children’s theater, Devin and Louis discuss why playing for children is both incredibly difficult and totally amazing. They answer the question we ask in retrospect: How does an improv audience compare to a room full of unabashedly honest children? Plus, Louis provides a theory as to why improv is populated by such a bunch of smarties.

Back to the present, yes? Devin came to New York to to pursue comedy, something which stemmed from her work in Commedia dell’Arte. She tells of about all the different shows she does, plus(!), she’s got a full-time job. Needless-to-say, she has a lot to balance day-to-day and being on stage allows her a central focus compared to the scatterbrain nature of daily life. She and Louis ponder advice for enjoying second beats and talk about innovative thinking versus adaptive thinking, or initiating versus responding, if you prefer. She advocates adding a feeling of inclusiveness to how you begin a scene, no matter what kind of initiation you provide, and as promised in the lead, they talk about their feet knowing better than their minds!

To wrap things up, Louis and Devin wax poetic on The Cast, which for the record, Louis thinks is better than 98 Degrees. Devin tells us how crazy fun the show is and gives a lot of well-deserved credit to their director, Hannah Chase. Plus, Ed Herbstman makes a cameo and Devin talks about being friends with the one and only Justin Torres!!

Wednesday March 16, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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Geri Cole Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

The Cast member and hilarious human, GERI COLE, joins the show to talk about travel, her utopian hometown, and how to bring more voices to the comedy table. Geri spends her weekdays working on Sesame Street and her weekends creating one-of-a-kind improv shows with The Cast, so we’re thrilled that she’s taken some time to talk to us about true wealth, her time in Barcelona, and what she loves about her sweet, sweet hubby! Listen in, kiddos.

We gave it away in the intro, but the first thing Geri and Louis discuss on this episode is travel _ specifically about how Geri loves to do it despite the fact that it gives her terrible anxiety. Louis can’t pick up and go nearly as easily as Geri can, so asks about the psychology behind having a travel bug. One thing that helps Geri overcome her anxiety and see new places is her love of observing people. She talks about being very generous with her attention and the act of people watching. She then tells of her moving to Barcelona for a year and how her “naive by nature” personality led her to NYC.

Enough about all the cool places Geri has lived, let’s talk about where she’s from! Geri grew up in Columbia, Maryland, which is a planned community designed to be a utopian town prioritizing racial and economic integration. No joke! Hear her talk about this fascinating and truly inspiring place. This leads into an exploration of the idea of true wealth and what makes a person truly rich. Geri makes up some statistics and, spoiler alert, money isn’t the (only) answer! Louis also asks, can you be “good” at having money? Fascinating!!!

These days, Geri works at Sesame Street (along with a number of other Magnet students and performer) and it’s been her street away from home for seven years now! That fun fact aside, Louis transitions to what he deems the heavy and controversial part of our podcast. He wants to know how we can bring more voices to the comedy table. He also asks, how are we contributing to good in the world and not just adding more crap? Geri attempts to answer these absolutely massive questions from Louis and provides us with some insight into how we might do it. They wonder, is there any real science behind what they’re saying? If you’re a scientist, let us know!

Then, out of nowhere, Louis pivots to talk about The Cast! Geri claims the show is so good because they’re having a friggin’ blast up there. Color us convinced! Louis tells Geri what his students say about the show and she admits that what she loves most is how they fearlessly cram for shows.

Lastly, and certainly not leastly, Louis makes Geri list three things she loves about her husband, Andy Mills. Tune in!

Wednesday January 13, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Elena Skopetos Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Champion of sketch and improv comedy alike, ELENA SKOPETOS, joins us on the show to talk about clowning, characters, ComedySportz, and the new J&L Presents! You know her from The Cast, The Executives, AVALANCHE, and her many appearances in other shows, but this is Elena’s first tell-all-interview-podcast with Louis Kornfeld so we suggest you strap on in before you’re swept away to Flavortown. This party is starting and you’re still at the door, buddy!

If you think Louis is messing around to begin this episode, you’re dead wrong. more

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