Improv Beyond show doesn’t disappoint

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Photo credit/ Alex Weidner

Improv Beyond kept the audience's attention by asking for suggestions throughout the night. From left to right: Alex Eiden, Terry Thompson, Dan Huy, Daniel Smith, Sarah Wagner and Travis Murray.

Alex Weidner, Managing Editor

Travis Murray, a senior marketing major, silently walked to the front of the room, carrying a small stick. He got up on the stage at the front of the room and arranged a handful of chairs into a semi-circle.

Murray then picked unsuspecting audience members to sit in the chairs. He mimed playing instruments, like a flute and a harp, for the audience members to mimic. Once Murray’s small faux-orchestra was assembled, he motioned to an assistant off-stage, and began conducting the orchestra.

As his conducting built up, music began playing from the sound system. John William’s iconic Jurrasic Park theme song accompanied the instrument-less orchestra. Murray, at this point, had given up his conducting and began walking across the stage, pretending to be a dinosaur.

That’s how Improv Beyond’s spring 2017 show began last Friday evening, and the over-the-top opening skit set the tone of weird and wacky for the rest of the night.

The six Marywood University students who make up Improv Beyond participated in 13 different improv acting games over the course of two hours for a crowd of about 70 people in Nazareth Hall’s Latour Room.

The troupe warmed up the audience with a game called “Sex With Me.” More of a string of jokes rather than a skit, the actors used audience suggestions for each joke. Audience members gave examples of objects like a pencil or a teacup. The actors had to answer questions like, “Why is sex with me like a teacup?” This was a raunchy way to warm themselves and the audience up for a night of laughs. Not a single joke fell flat.

Another highlight of the night came when the whole group participated in what they call “Free Scenes.” A word of inspiration from the audience, spaghetti, and the actors spent the next few minutes making up any scenes and jokes they could think of. The scenes were always fresh, because as soon as an individual scene started to run dry, one of the actors could clear the stage for a new scene.

Junior Digital Media Major Terry Thompson had lost his voice before the show, but that didn’t hinder his comedic spirit.

Thompson and Senior Digital Media Major Alex Eiden teamed up for “Sound Effects.” Thompson had to silently act out a scene while Eiden provided sound effects. While Thompson quietly but dramatically pretended to bake a cake, Eiden accompanied with realistic and outrageous sound effects.

The show ended on one of its strongest notes when Murray and Eiden, both about to graduate and leave Improv Beyond, shared the stage for an iconic improv game. The game “Whose Line?” borrowing its name from the popular television show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” involved a simple scene between the two actors.

Audience members submitted phrases at the start of the show on slips of paper, and while Murray and Eiden had to act out a scene as a teacher and a student, they had to include the phrases in their dialogue. The anticipation of each phrase as they unfurled the papers from their pockets and prepared to read kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the final performance.

There were moments throughout the night where it was obvious the actors didn’t know where to go next during a scene, but they didn’t let those mistakes ruin their spirit. There was always someone ready to save the scene with a new joke, and none of the group was ever left without support from his or her fellow actors.

The group put on what was ultimately an entertaining show, with numerous memorable moments and overall positive reactions from the audience. Their next performance will be on campus at the end of the fall semester, and it certainly will be worth seeing.

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Twitter: @WeidnerTWW