A Few Questions for – Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn

PHIT’s all new upcoming Spring Theatrical Run – Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn – is WarpJawnV3gearing up for its April 16 premiere, and our AD Ralph Andracchio had a few questions for director Michael Hochman and producer Kristen Schier. Here’s what they had to say about the theater boldly going where the theater has never gone before.

Ralph Andracchio: So, where did the idea of mounting an improvised sci-fi show come from?
Kristen Schier: In case you haven’t noticed, and I mean this in the nicest way – there is a lot of overlap on the venn diagram that is nerds and improvisers. Trek was a natural fit.
Michael Hochman: When the theater first approach me about directing my first thought was a genre show. And I grew up watching and reading every bit of sci fi I could absorb, from Lucas and Roddenberry to Asimov and Heinlein. So it seemed the obvious choice.

RA: Why Star Trek? And specifically, The Original Series?
KS: The original series is camper making it more ripe with comedic opportunity.
MH: Star Trek: The Next Generation is what I grew up with. And I love it, but I feel like paying homage to TOS just feels right. Who knows, maybe at some point, we’ll do Warp Jawn: Next Gen.

RA: How did Mike come to be the project’s director?
KS: Mike is a talented performer and instructor at the theater, and has been for sometime. I had him in mind as a director for a project, and when I discovered his love of Star Trek we had the show.
MH: Kristen asked, and I’m an Improv addict who was excited by the chance to do something fin and unique.

RA: Tell us a little bit about the cast. Are they falling into the sci-fi vibe easily?
KS: Mike…?
MH: These guys get it. Some were more familiar with the source material than others. But they’ve all done their homework and have fully committed.

RA: What can the audience expect to see in the show? Will there be costumes, sets, alien worlds?
KS: All that and more, while the set and costumes will help bring the world of each episode to the fore it will really be the improvised nature of the piece that is likely to transport the audience more than anything else.
MH: You betcha. Light and sound design by Rob Caso. Video designed by rob Gentile. Costume design by Erin Pitts. Our logo and uniform and emblem designed by Chris Calletta. And set design by me. Its a full experience.

RA: Any final thoughts about the project?
KS: I am proud of the quality of work the design team the director and the cast have put into this show. Everyone is clearly talented. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew.
MH: Directing this show has been and is a blast, and I’m psyched for everyone to be able to see it.

RA: Final question: If you could go on a date with any character from Star Trek: The Original Series, which character would you go out with and why?
KS: Kirk. He’d be good in bed (to much?)
MH: I’m gonna cheat and say Dax from DS9’s “crossover” episode – “Trials and Tribble-ations”. Dax is one of my favorite characters on any of the series, plus that episode is such a great, playful homage to TOS.

Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn runs from April 16 through May 3 2014 at Philly Improv Theater, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia PA 19103. Tickets are on sale now!

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April Fool’s Day Flash Sale is ON! (101 Classes Only $199)

April Fool’s Day is sort of like the comedy equivalent of New Year’s, Christmas, Easter, Hannukah, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. It’s the day everyone wants to kid around, pull pranks and generally goof off. So we’re celebrating with a sale that we promise is no joke: all our introductory classes (101’s) are just $199 from now until the end of the day on April 6th! Get in there and grab one – we promise you won’t regret it. You can look at all our upcoming improv classes and sketch writing classes on their respective sections of the site!

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Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn Teaser Trailer is Here!

Check out the amazing teaser trailer for our upcoming Spring Theatrical Run – Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn! Big thanks to Rob Gentile for all of his hard work on the video. The show will run April 16 through May 3. Tickets are on sale now!

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PHIT Roasts Ignite Philly @ Johnny Brenda’s

You know who doesn’t like balloons? Everyone who flew on the Hindenburg! That’s probably a statement of fact, though it would be difficult to verify. We could track down the last 2 living survivors and ask them but come on, let’s not waste people’s time.

What can be verified is that the team from the Philly Improv Theater had a fantastic time at the Ignite Philly event at Johnny Brenda’s on March 13th, 2014. The task was no simple one: Listen to every Ignite talk and, as it’s happening, write jokes roasting the talk. If that wasn’t daunting enough, at the end of the evening, go up and deliver all these jokes to the crowd (many of whom wrote these presentations).

For the uninitiated, Ignite Philly is part of a worldwide network that entertains and educates people in short 5 minute bursts (live presentations). At the events, each presenter is on stage for a total of 5 minutes (20 slides, at 15 seconds each slide). These talks are a ‘spark’ if you will; they are lightning fast and leave people with a new idea to mull over and talk about.

And talk we did! If you consider 5 people cramming themselves in a booth with laptops, and writing jokes as fast as they can for 3 straight hours, “talking.”

IgniteRoasters

In the coming days you’ll be able to see full videos of all the talks, including a 5 minute one by Executive Director of PHIT Greg Maughan on the history of improv, plus our roast of every talk – including Greg’s – on the Ignite Philly site. But for now, read on to catch a synopsis of every talk, and the jokes the team came up with. PS we weren’t able to get all of these out on stage, so even if you were in attendance, you’ll enjoy the read!

 

Author’s Note: It was truly a pleasure to participate in this, and work with such talented people. Robert Alesiani, Lizzie Burrows, Ryan T. Barlow and Katrina Halkidis (who was on the team but couldn’t make the event due to illness) are remarkable comedians and I can’t wait to work with them again. And I’d be remised if I didn’t mention how in awe I was at the comedic talents and presence of one Mr. Greg Maughan. Greg doesn’t get to perform nearly as much as he’d like to, he’s a bit busy you know, running the amazing theatre we all love. But when he does you should JUMP at the opportunity to see the show, or be in it if you’re lucky enough. You will not be disappointed!

 

Meg Wise – Smith Playground and the Importance of Play

Synopsis: Smith Playground, a free park in Fairmount Park supporting unstructured play for kids.

 

  • Smith playground… where kids play without structure… it’s pretty much lord of the flies
  • Kids designed and built the newest edition to Smith playground.  It’s a giant butt that farts “let it go” from Frozen.
  • Admission is free.  Just like literally every other playground.
  • We partner with cool organizations like ‘spark truck’.  Which is a truck that is on fire.

 

Bill Mauchly – Bring Back ENIAC

Synopsis: The first general purpose electronic computer, now in pieces in museums and warehouses scattered across the country, should be brought back to Philly.

  • Most of ENIAC is sitting next to the Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse somewhere.
  • ENIAC is so nerdy (how nerdy is it), it’s so nerdy the Franklin Institute won’t even touch it.
  • Philly is finally going to get a huge tech upgrade… with a 67 year old computer.
  • Please help me carry this 500 ton computer back to Philadelphia. I can offer hoagies?

 

Jesse vanWestrienen – BioMeme

Synopsis:  Biomeme, enabling anyone to do real-time mobile DNA analysis on their smartphone.

  • What’s the stat they said, over a billion smartphones in the world and Biomeme can turn every one of them into a mobile lab – so SkyNet yall, SkyNet is officially becoming self-aware and it’s calling itself Biomeme. Look out for Terminators.
  • BioMeme, we take pictures of picture of plants, and make them into meme’s on Facebook – we’re filing for Chapter 11 soon
  • Because when you think BioGenetics, you think Panama
  • I want to show you the most expensive app ever in order to find out about your sisters baby daddy…so effectively putting Maury Povich out of business, thanks BioMeme!

 

Michelle Schmitt & Sean McGinnis – Balloon Mapping

Synopsis: The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science is a global community formed to hold government and industry accountable through the use of citizen collected data – photos taken through balloons and kites.

  • (ReMEMber, when I’M exCITed i TALK like THIS!)
  • I’m a geonerd…I went on three dates with granite…she makes me so harrrrd.
  • Balloons are also great for high-altitude selfies.
  • Who doesn’t fucking love a balloon? Everyone who took the Hindenburg.
  • Think the NSA isn’t spying on you enough… let’s start doing it ourselves! All the time! From space balloons!
  • Yeah, your balloons are cool – but did you jump out of one from space like Felix Baumgartner?

 

Sarah Joseph – West Philadelphia Alliance for Children

Synopsis: How to build a school library in 11 steps

  • Let’s open up a library…I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that.
  • This is how to build a school library in 11 steps.  That’s one less step than getting sober.
  • Step 12 stop the kids from taking out the National Geographic’s that have boobs in them.
  • 17 libraries open. 17 books shelved.
  • I didn’t see “hire sexy librarian” in your talk.. Oh wait, is this not a porn?

 

Deva Watson – Palates to Palettes

Synopsis: Food is art, and everyone, regardless of income level, should get to experience it in all its greatest forms.

  • So full disclosure, i was writing jokes for half this presentation waiting for Pilates to come up.
  • With a name like Deva you might think I’m high maintenance, but I’m actually pretty down to Earth. Moving on.. all you mother fuckers better call me chef!!!
  • If restaurants are art forms, subway has to be paint by numbers… if paint by the numbers tasted like a shitty hoagie.
  • as we all know, Behind any great chef is a team of great people… who are addicted to cocaine.
  • We take kids to eat in restaurants they’ll never be able to afford to eat in again until they’ve sold their souls to corporate america.
  • Craig LaBan only gave these kids two bells.
  • I brought a bunch of underprivileged kids to Le Bec Fin and it closed forever.

 

Yowel Shaw – Really Good Elevator Music

Synopsis: The history of elevator music, and different approaches to change it to promote community in public space.

  • Elevator music founded by Satan in the middle ages.
  • So, Comcast plays music to make me even angrier?
  • Muzak will make everyone happier, I will now start playing it… I AM NOW IN CONTROL. YOU ARE NOW MY SLAVES.
  • Oh good the songs were actually ambient noises while people said creepy things to you… so, exactly how I ride in an elevator.

 

Greg Maughan – Philly Improv Theater

Synopsis: What’s improv, where’d it come from and why do I care?

  • Thank you guys for acting like you know what the Philly Improv Theater is so now Greg won’t kill himself tonight.
  • There’s actually a bit of a feud between improv and stand up in Philly. It’s like the Jets & the Sharks if the Jets & the Sharks never got laid.
  • “Yes, And” does work everywhere, like when I’m on a date and the woman asks if I’m enjoying my dinner I say Yes, and you should fuck me later.
  • Improved has arrived… it just hasn’t made me cum… EVER
  • UCB in the house? Philly Improv Theater in the house?? Uh Oh, Improv Fight – which is even gayer than it sounds
  • Oh and here’s an ad for PHIT, that’s the only reason I really came here tonight

 

Jim MacMillan – Gun Crisis News

Synopsis: Exactly what it sounds like, an overview of the gun crisis in Philadelphia presented by GunCrisis.org, a team of people seeking solutions to end the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in our city.

  • And no, we did not touch this one.

 

Jen Devor & Megan Rosenbach – Building Communities in Newbold

Synopsis: NicePhilly.org presented tips on connecting, engaging and supporting neighborhood schools.

  • We went to art school…. sooo we opened our own non-profit so we could eat.
  • Yeah, we have a full time librarian.  OH SNAP!!! It’s a library throw down, West Philly Alliance for Children?
  • We became very familiar with the dewey decimal system because you know, we’re all about useable 21st century skills
  • We started going into the school uninvited. We got chased out a lot by the police.
  • Get to know someone in the building.  Just in case you get locked out.
  • Yup.  Attractive white girls are preeeeety good at solving the problems of inner city schools.  we learned this from ‘Dangerous Minds’

 

Hillary Rea – Spoken word/comedian

Synopsis: Philly gets a bad rap a lot of the time, here’s why it’s great.

  • Everyone who isn’t from Philly can eat a dick.
  • Some people bring fans to shows to cheer. We bring people to heckle. It’s the nicest we can muster. WE LOVE YOU JT!!! (everyone give the finger)
  • No, seriously, I slipped my boyfriend a finger last night and he gave me a fist.
  • I just learned the official hasgtag for this is #IgnitePhilly, I’ve been using #VeggieWingBowl all night!!

 

Martin Brown – Buzzwords of Modern Life

Synopsis: Honestly we’re still trying to figure out what this one was about, but it was presented by the co-owner of Little Baby’s Ice Cream on Frankford Ave

  • Honestly, guys it’s time to get honest.  I really hate ice-cream and I’m lactose intolerant.
  • This is about the 10th time I’ve been on this stage, and in honor of that I really decided to phone this one in.
  • I have some zines for you guys (throw piles of notebook paper at audience).
  • Wanna talk to me about ice cream? Buy me a beer! Want get into these pants? Buy me some Pizza Brain.

 

(13) Kristyn Stewart – Philadelphia Center for Arts & Technology

Synopsis: The crisis of adult literacy in Philadelphia, and how it has far-reaching impacts on children, the economy, poverty and crime.

  • Philadelphia: Where you’ll have nightmares about Philadelphians heckling you about your statistics.
  • Seriously, when is someone going to just come up here on stage and say “FUCK TOM CORBETT!”?
  • Guys, please don’t poop in the urinal in an effort to impress Kristyn. I really have to pee.
  • To be fair, our 3 year olds are texting at a 12th grade level.

 

James Yoakum – Cooper River Distillery

Synopsis: James Yoakum, Founder and Chief Distiller of Cooper River Distillers in Camden, NJ, presents on craft/artisan/micro-distilling and craft/artisan/micro-spirits

  • A distillery in Camden… because ya know, law school didn’t work out
  • A distillery in Camden bc we all know what Camden needs more of.. Alcoholism
  • Quinoa whiskey, because your vegan cousin also likes to do the walk of shame.
  • I actually prefer to get my alcohol from the guy in the suit, because I already get my weed from that douchebag in a flannel shirt.

 

Jennifer Bogoni – Spark

Synopsis: Awkward is the new cool, why the middle (school) matters in improving drop-out rates in Philadelphia and elsewhere

  • True story: all the pictures in my presentation were just family photographs.
  • I also want a sturdy bridge to jump off after hearing those dropout stats – thanks for nothing!
  • The real question: how did this talk relate to spaghetti bridges you make in middle school science class?
  • Jenni bogoni do you like macaroni?
  • I know what my focus was in high school. The girls who wouldn’t go out with me.

See you next time, if not sooner! If you’d like to learn the skills that helped us do what we did at this Ignite event, you can. Just enroll in an improv, sketch or stand-up class today at PHIT!

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PHIT is Looking for a New Variety Producer!

In some exciting news Jessica Ross, PHIT’s Variety Producer, has made plans to leave us and move to LA in the spring. Those of you who have been to our theater and enjoyed any of our variety show offerings (DTF, Atomic Cinema Vault, People of Interest, House of Black, etc.) have seen the unique and popular projects that Jess has helped bring to our stage through her own connections and the great work she did last year in creating Sweeps Weeks – PHIT’s program to help comics develop variety show ideas.

With Jess’ departure, PHIT will look to fill her position on the Artistic Team and bring on board a new Variety Producer. The Variety Producer reports to the Artistic Director and supervises any show hosts or one-off shows that do not fall under the category of sketch or improv comedy. They are responsible for selecting the unusual, highly alternative programming to fill space on the calendar as directed by the Artistic Director, sending performance offers and tracking acceptance of those offers and seeing the shows they book to offer feedback to actors and crew of the performances. The Variety Booker consults with the Artistic Director, other Producers (improv & sketch), Executive Director, and performers. A more detailed explanation of the position is available in the Variety Producer Job Description.

Submissions for the new variety producer are being accepted beginning immediately through Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 11:59 p.m.. We ask that any interested applicants send the following in an email to contact<at>phillyimprovtheater.com with the subject line “Variety Producer”:

  • a resume
  • a one-page letter explaining your comedy philosophy and why you would be a great Variety Producer for PHIT

Interviews for qualified candidates will take place during day and evening on Friday, March 28th and Saturday, March 30th. A final decision will be announced on April 1st (no joke).

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$50 EARLY REGISTRATION DISCOUNT ENDS FRIDAY, 3/7!

PHIT StudentThe last of the winter session classes takes place this week and Spring classes are hot on its heels. Below you’ll find some highlights of the Spring 2014 Session as well as some more great news for students!

Early discount period ends Friday, 3/7! Sign up before then to save $50 off the full registration price!



CORE CLASSES GROWING!
For you beginners we have several Improv 101 classes starting, so hopefully one of them fits your schedule. Great new instructors like Mayor Karen’s Rob Gentile are joining the instructor ranks and PHIT favorites like Jessica Snow return after a session off. Hopefully there’s a class that fits your schedule. Sign up before Friday and you’ll save $50 off the full enrollment cost!

Our Winter 2014 Session students have been super eager to continue and we, of course, are happy to oblige! We love knowledge hungry students. We’ve had to add a daytime Improv 201 to our three already sold-out 201 classes as well as added another Improv 301 due to demand. The talent coming up through the PHIT training center right now is fantastic.

New sketch instructor, Sean Landis, received a great welcome for his first class: It’s SOLD OUT! Have no fear prospective sketch writing students, there are still spots available in two sketch writing classes. One taught by Dog Mountain Head Writer, Joe Moore and one with PHIT Sketch Producer Brian Kelly.

STAND-UP COMEDY WORKSHOP IS BACK!
Comedian, Aaron Hertzog will be leading this workshop that will help you get started in the world of stand-up comedy from absolute beginner advice on stage presence to helping you craft your act. If you’ve been looking to get into stand-up, or already do it and are looking to hone your craft a bit more, this workshop is for you.

IMPROVISED SCENE STUDY AND AN INTRO TO THEATRICAL CLOWNING
Two fantastic electives with two of the best improvisers in Philadelphia! Jess Ross will go through many different scene techniques and help you loosen up and have more fun on stage in her Improvised Scene Study elective. Kristen Schier’s Clowning elective has been talked about for a while, so I’m bumping it up to the Spring session. As she puts it, “It is not essential to have previous experience of this particular way of working but it is necessary to come prepared to fail, make mistakes and laugh at yourself…for it is only by accepting our ridiculousness that we will find and enjoy performing our clowns! All students will receive a complimentary red nose.” A red nose!

KevinMcDonaldsmallKEVIN MCDONALD RETURNS TO PHIT!
On May 10th-11th Kevin McDonald of Kids In the Hall fame will return to PHIT to teach his very popular Improv to Sketch Master Class. The class will be run over two days and will teach you the process through which he and his KITH brethren created the iconic show. Another bit of good news- the aforementioned payment plan is available for this weekend workshop! Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!


With the special guest just announced (and the possibility of more), returning workshops, new electives, practice groups and of course comedy shows now happening at the theater 5 days a week(!) there really is something for everyone at PHIT this Spring. Head on over to our enroll now page and see all that we have to offer. Hope to see you around the theater soon!

http://phillyimprovtheater.com/classes/enroll-now/

Have questions? Send an email to classes@phillyimprovtheater.com

Mike Marbach
PHIT Education Director

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A Fond Farewell To Davenger

DavengerGroupIt’s always sad when a team comes to the end of their run, and after 2 years of spectacular performances, the time has come to say goodbye to one of our Improv House Teams – Davenger. Ever since they formed, this ensemble has consistently showed their prowess on stage with engaging scene work that has raised the bar for other teams in Philly.

As we reach their final performance, we’ve asked a few of the people involved since Davenger’s inception to share their thoughts about this great team.

“Davenger was a great team because they were also great friends and it showed on stage in the way they were so in tune with each other.

It’s great to know that so many of them are already staying involved at PHIT: Nick Gillette, Jessi, and Kevin as instructors for our spring session, and Nick Mirra as the director for This Is Your Captain, Alex Newman with The SHAM. It’s exciting to see other members striking out with their own projects as well. And it’s cool to know that former Davengers will be living in NYC and LA  soon – spreading Philly comedy scene talent throughout the country.”
-Greg Maughan, Philly Improv Theater Executive Director

Davenger is a special team. I think you can see that both on-stage and whenever you see two or more of them gathered together. They just enjoy each other. In thinking back to when I first cast them one of my major goals with Davenger was that aside from teaching them the Harold and helping them grow as individual performers I wanted them come away from this experience knowing what it felt like to be part of a team so that in future creative experiences they would know what good creative collaboration feels like.  And I think that’s what you see when they are on-stage. A group of talented, funny, intelligent, committed, good-hearted people who enjoy working together and making each other laugh. They care about each other and the work they do together. And that’s what makes their work so strong. And why it was a real honor to be their coach. I look forward to tonight and to their next steps as artists. It will be exciting to watch.
– Maggy Keegan, Davenger director and Artistic Director of Figment Theater

Davenger is the most robust ensemble I’ve ever seen. I came to them to coach six months ago, and this is the first thing I noticed. Beyond the commitment to the craft in rehearsals, beyond the countless hilarious moments of support on stage, I noticed that this team had taken the time to become a team. They became more than cast mates, they became friends. Today, on the day of their final show, I’d like to point this out to other improvisers, young and old, here in Philadelphia. The cast of Davenger all have astounding talent, they have the finest training, but I believe the simple secret of their success after two years of brave and humble improv is seen in their moments of play together off stage. This is a group that risked giving a damn about one another as people. I’ll miss the team, and particularly those whose lives are taking them elsewhere, but the bonds they formed aren’t going anywhere.
– Nick Gillette, Davenger director

From the entire PHIT family, we wish all of these great performers well and look forward to their continued success!

Davenger’s final show will be Saturday, Feb 22 @ 9:00PM. Tickets available online.

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Because We Love You: A Valentine’s Weekend Discount On Classes!

We’re not quite sure how to say this. I know that it may feel like we don’t hang out that much, or you haven’t seen us around a lot lately, but well… the thing is – we get nervous around you sometimes and we really want you to like us.

No! No!, Not, like, *LIKE US* like us. Unless you do? Do you? Oh heck, this is getting pretty awkward now, isn’t it? Sorry…

I guess we should just come out and ask: Will you be our Valentine? We got you a PRESENT!(Although maybe you want to share it with someone else).

 

OUR GIFT TO YOU:

We love comedy so much that seeing it and sharing it isn’t enough. We want to teach you to how do it too! So for the next 72 hours – from 12:00 p.m. Friday, February 14th (that’s right now!) until 12:00 p.m. Monday, February 17th – we are offering you the chance to fall in love with us even more by taking an introductory class at the nostalgic *original* PHIT class price of $199… just visit our ENROLL NOW page to see what’s being offered in the Spring Session starting March 17th!

That’s $50 extra dollars on top of the early registration discount for a total of $100 savings (30% off) of the current regular registration price. We’re also offering a small gift to returning students. If you enroll in a 201 class or higher during the same time period we’ll have a fancy PHIT t-shirt for you on the first day of class that you can show off to all the other students.

Maybe you know a friend or have a special someone you’d love to have start classes at the theater? Sign them up and just indicate their name as the student name in the appropriate field when you are making your payment.

I hope you’ll take advantage of these deals if you were planning to sign up for another class. We do have 10 different 101 classes starting in March, and a similar number of higher level classes – so there should be something that fits your schedule. Remember, the full schedule of upcoming classes is available right on the ENROLL NOW page of our website.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, maybe come catch a show!

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PHIT is Closed Due to Snow Thursday, February 13th!

Due to the snowstorm affecting the Philadelphia region, all performances, classes and rehearsals at PHIT are cancelled for the evening of Thursday, February 13, 2014. Stay safe and warm everyone!

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“Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn” Cast Annuonced!

PHIT is excited to announce the cast of our Spring Theatrical Run, Millennium Quest: KristenSchier_smallWarp Jawn. A send up of classic sci-fi tropes from movies and television, Warp Jawn is a spontaneously created comedy performance in the vain of the original Star Trek television series. With original sets, costumes and make-up, and audio and video elements, this will definitely be a show not to be missed.

PHIT had a pool of very talented performers audition making the casting process a difficult one. The end result is a cast of PHIT regulars, up-and-comers and even a few “where-did-they-come-from?” surprises:

Quinton Alexander
Jim Burns
Andrew Coppola
Stuart Draper
Jimi Haak
Katrina Halkidis
Sofya Piro
Raja Rajanathan
Vito Salerno
Andrew Sigwart

Directed by Michael Hochman and produced by Kristen Schier, Millenium Quest: Warp Jawn runs from Thursday, April 17th through Saturday, May 3rd. Congrats to the cast!

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Philly Improv Theater Launches the “Dynamite Series @ PHIT”

PHIT is proud to announce the Dynamite Series @ PHIT. Curated by Ralph Andracchio, RalphSmallPHIT’s Artistic Director, this ambitious new series provides an open, creative platform that showcases both proven and brand new projects. Shows in this series will encompass many comedic disciplines, strengthen our connections to other communities in Philadelphia, and demonstrate boundary pushing comedy.

“This project will expand ideas, connections, and conversations. We’re creating this wonderful opportunity where performers can ask ‘What is Comedy?’ and ‘How can it connect us to the larger Philadelphia community?'” says Andracchio. “Our goal is to pair comedy with different disciplines, such as the academic and the playwrighting communities to create engaging  productions that will ignite conversations and reach new audiences. Hence the tagline for the series: “Connect. Ignite. Explode.”

Two successful 2013 FRINGE projects are being relaunched as part of this series: Page One directed by Steve Kleinedler, and Study Hall directed by Mike Marbach. In the pipeline are completely new conceptual shows that will debut later this year. Dynamite Series @ PHIT shows run Saturdays at 7:30PM. Tickets for these shows can be purchased online at the PHIT website or through their Facebook page.

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SPRING CLASSES NOW ENROLLING! SPECIAL GUEST! PAYMENT PLANS!

MarbachSmallIt is official: The Philly Improv Theater now has a home! Not only is this great for performers and the comedy loving public, but it’s great for students! Students enrolled in winter session classes will be able to see more shows than they can probably squeeze into their schedule. All within feet of where their class takes place. Thank you to anyone and everyone that came out to our opening weekend or helped out in any way. Also a huge thank you to all students enrolled in winter session classes. You’re already proving to be such a great bunch of people. I’ve enjoyed getting to meet many of you both in person and through the PHIT Training Center Facebook group.

The last of the winter session classes just started Sunday and already it’s time to look ahead to the Spring. With a foot of snow still on the ground that’s not something I mind doing. Just like any sequel there is more of your old favorites as well as some new characters to change things up a bit. Below you’ll find some highlights of the Spring 2014 Session as well as some more great news for students!

PHIT NOW OFFERING PAYMENT PLAN!
We know that putting out money for a class is not an easy thing for everyone to do, so we’re looking to help you out. Starting with the Spring 2014 Session core classes and select electives and workshops will be eligible for a split payments. You will be able to hold a spot in a class during the first several weeks of enrollment with a non-refundable 50% deposit, then you’ll have several more weeks to pay the balance of the regular registration price and secure your space.

When split payments are available this will be indicated next to the price on the class description page and you will see a drop-down menu before the PayPal “Buy Now” button where you’ll have have the option of choosing to pay the full early registration price (saving $50) or making a split payment for the regular registration price for the class. For Spring 2014 classes the payment plan option will only be available until 2/7/2014 and the 2nd payment must be made by 3/7/2014 (once your deposit is received you will be emailed an invoice for your balance that you can pay anytime before the 2nd payment deadline). Please remember, if you choose the split-payment option the first payment is non-refundable should you fail to make the second payment – we will be holding that spot for you and turning other students away should a class become sold-out when we include spots which are being held.

KevinMcDonaldsmallKEVIN MCDONALD RETURNS TO PHIT!
On May 10th-11th Kevin McDonald of Kids In the Hall fame will return to PHIT to teach his very popular Improv to Sketch Master Class. The class will be run over two days and will teach you the process through which he and his KITH brethren created the iconic show. Another bit of good news- the aforementioned payment plan is available for this weekend workshop! Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!


CORE CLASSES GROWING!

Several classes in the winter session had wait lists, so we’re trying to accommodate people by adding a date to Improv 101, Sketch 101, Improv 201 and Improv 301. And yes, that payment plan option is available for core classes! This will most likely ensure that the Dean’s List Student ID bowl will need to be upgraded.

We can also now welcome to the Improv Instructor team, Rob Gentile and to the sketch instructor team, Sean Landis! Rob has been active with PHIT for years now on Mayor Karen and has directed Dr. Sleepover, which you can now catch on Saturday Nights. Sean Landis can be seen on sketch team American Breakfast as well as a writer/performer on PHIT Sketch House Team, The Flat Earth. Whether you are an improv or sketch person you’re in for a treat with either of these guys. Welcome, Rob & Sean!

STAND-UP COMEDY WORKSHOP IS BACK!
Comedian, Aaron Hertzog will be leading this workshop that will help you get started in the world of stand-up comedy from absolute beginner advice on stage presence to helping you craft your act. If you’ve been looking to get into stand-up, or already do it and are looking to hone your craft a bit more, this workshop is for you.

IMPROVISED SCENE STUDY AND AN INTRO TO THEATRICAL CLOWNING
Two fantastic electives with two of the best improvisers in Philadelphia! Jess Ross will go through many different scene techniques and help you loosen up and have more fun on stage in her Improvised Scene Study elective. Kristen Schier’s Clowning elective has been talked about for a while, so I’m bumping it up to the Spring session. As she puts it, “It is not essential to have previous experience of this particular way of working but it is necessary to come prepared to fail, make mistakes and laugh at yourself…for it is only by accepting our ridiculousness that we will find and enjoy performing our clowns! All students will receive a complimentary red nose.” A red nose!

With the special guest just announced (and the possibility of more), returning workshops, new electives, practice groups and of course comedy shows now happening at the theater 5 days a week(!) there really is something for everyone at PHIT this Spring. Head on over to our enroll now page and see all that we have to offer. Hope to see you around the theater soon!

Have questions? Send an email to classes@phillyimprovtheater.com

Mike Marbach
PHIT Education Director

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Classes and Rehearsals Cancelled for Tuesday, 1/21/2014

Due to the snowstorm affecting the Philadelphia region, all classes and rehearsals at PHIT are cancelled for the evening of Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Stay safe and warm everyone!

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PHIT Announces Auditions for our Upcoming Spring Theatrical Run – “Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn”

KristenSchier_small

PHIT is excited to hold auditions for our spring theatrical run show, Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn. This improvised show will simultaneously pay homage to and gleefully mock the original Star Trek – complete with low-budget effects, aliens that look suspiciously like people in different colored tunics, and no noticeable plot.

Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn will be directed by Michael Hochman and will run as PHIT’s spring theatrical run show being produced by Kristen Schier. Rehearsals will be held Sunday afternoons from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. and Monday evenings from 8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. beginning February 16th. Performances will begin with a preview on Wednesday, April 16th at 7:30 p.m. and then run April 17th through May 3rd on Thursday/Friday/Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 p.m.. Performers will receive a stipend. More information on compensation will be provided to those offered spots in the cast before they make their final decision to accept or decline an offer to be part of the production.

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AUDITION TIMES & PREREQUISITES
PHIT will be holding auditions for Millennium Quest: Warp Jawn on Saturday February 1st, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on our stage at 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Auditioners should have previously completed PHIT’s Improv 201 course or will need to detail their previous training and receive permission from the theater’s Season Producer to attend (in general, having taken an equivalent “201″ or “intermediate” course with another established improv school will meet the requirement). Auditioners who have taken classes at PHIT will not be given special preference over those who have studied elsewhere – although we will have had more time to see you perform,  which may help. You must be available for the posted audition times to be considered. No other audition times are available.

HOW TO SECURE AN AUDITION
Sign-ups for audition times begin immediately. To secure an audition time please email your name, phone number, a preferred time (if any), and details of your past improv training (theatre, level, instructor) to contact@phillyimprovtheater.com. Philly Improv Theater supports equal opportunity and actively seeks diversity – we encourage all auditioners regardless of race, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age.

You will receive a confirmation message within two (2) business days – for example, if you contact us on Monday you’ll hear from us by Wednesday, or if you contact us on Friday, you’ll hear from us by the following Tuesday. We will accept sign-ups until no audition times remain. All specific audition times are first-come-first-served.

There are no alternate times. If you are not available for these audition dates and times, please do not email or call to ask for an exception – you simply will not be able to audition. If you are interested in auditioning, you must sign-up for one of our announced timeslots, we will not be taking walk-in auditioners.

ON THE DAY OF THE AUDITION
BE SURE TO ARRIVE AT LEAST FIFTEEN (15) MINUTES PRIOR TO YOUR SCHEDULED AUDITION TIME. There will be a short questionnaire for you to complete prior to your audition. Resumes are not required but will gladly be accepted. Please bring a headshot with you if you have one. If you don’t have headshots, a recent snapshot will suffice. Auditioners should wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Auditioners will be seen every 30 minutes in groups of 6-10. Auditioners should be prepared to demonstrate three characters, at least one of which is directly inspired by Star Trek. The audition will consist of exercises and improvised scene work. The director and members of PHIT’s artistic team will be in attendance. Select PHIT instructors may also invited to watch auditions. Anyone who is not providing artistic input or not an auditioner will be required to wait outside during auditions.

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Send an email to contact@phillyimprovtheater.com.

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Classes and Rehearsals Cancelled for Thursday, 1/2/2014

Due to the impending snowstorm, all classes and rehearsals at PHIT are cancelled for the evening of Thursday, January 2, 2014. Stay safe and warm everyone!

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New weekday daytime class added and several FREE intro to improv workshops!

Do you want to take an improv class at PHIT, but your night time work or performance schedule keeps that from happening? Not anymore! Starting in the Winter 2014 class session, PHIT will offer its first weekday class! Aimed at people who operate outside the 9-5 life, the class will start on Monday, January 13, 2014 from 12:30-2:30pm. Longform improv is of particular use to actors as it will help you create unique characters for new shows or discover deeper levels for roles you may be taking on. Improv will also help you build up your confidence to stand in front of a crowd whether it’s for a performance on stage or a lecture at work. You’ll also meet great people!

There will also be a FREE Intro to Improv Workshop offered during the day! Monday, 12/23/13 from 12:30pm-2:30pm. So if you’d like to see what this whole improv thing is about and you couldn’t make our weekend or weeknight workshops- here’s your chance!

And for those of you with more flexible schedules we also have 3 more FREE Intro to Improv Workshop weeknight options. Each one is taught by one of our Winter session Improv 101 instructors. Each is ready for you to register!

If you already know that you’re interested in taking a class then you can enroll now! Our Winter 101 classes start the week of January 12th. If you enroll on or before 1/3/2014 you’ll save $50!

Any questions, please email classes@phillyimprovtheater.com.

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Save money on PHIT classes this weekend!

Asteroid_Production_001With PHIT’s Black Friday deal you don’t need to risk injury or even leave the house! Today, Friday, November 29th until 11:59pm we’ll be offering spots in our Improv 101 and Sketch 101 classes for our original price: $199! That’s $50 extra dollars on top of the early registration discount for a total of $100 savings (30% off) of the current regular registration price. Give the gift of laughter to yourself or someone you love!

We’re also offering a small gift to returning students. If you enroll in a 201 class or higher on Friday or Saturday we’ll send you a PHIT t-shirt in the mail, just in time for the holidays!

For Small Business Saturday and continuing through Cyber Monday we have one last deal – 10% off ALL classes ($225) and $5 off workshops!

I hope you’ll take advantage of these deals if you were planning to sign up for another class. We have several 101 classes starting in January, and a similar number of higher level classes – so there should be something that fits your schedule.

Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving Weekend!

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Big PHIT Training Center Announcement!

MarbachSmallIn just over two months the Philly Improv Theater will have a permanent home in the Adrienne Theater. With the performance space now moving to the Adrienne it means that for the first time all classes and shows will be in the same building! For me this is especially exciting because students will be able to finish a class and see a show just feet away. That’s a great thing it’s not even the biggest thing I’m looking forward to for the Training Center in the coming year. This move brings many changes – including some for students that take classes. If you’re a student or potential student at PHIT I want to encourage you to keep reading…

Starting in January 2014 the Training Center will move to a system of sessions for all our classes. What this means is that all classes at the theater will start and end in roughly the one-week period, five times a year. Our five sessions will be:

Winter (starting mid-January)
Spring (starting mid-March)
Early-Summer (starting late May)
Late-Summer (starting early-August)
Fall (starting early-October)

Each session will have class shows that all take place in the same weekend, and PHIT will be able to have special activities for all students in a given session together (like end of session parties, field trips, etc.).

We will be offering more classes, electives, and workshops each session. There will be multiple sections for most classes (for example, we will offer five sections of Improv 101 and two sections of Sketch 101 in our Winter Session). This will make it easier for students to find a class that works for them because they’ll have more choices. It will also be easier to continue without a break from one level to the next, because the next Session will start a week or two after the prior session ends.

Some days and times of the week will offer classes in sequence across the entire year. So if you start an Improv 101 in the winter session on Mondays at 7:00 p.m., there will be a Monday 7:00 p.m. Improv 201 in the spring session, a Monday 7:00 p.m. Improv 301 in the early-summer session, and a Monday 7:00 p.m. Improv 401 in the late-summer session.

PHIT will now be offering weekly practice groups matched to your level of experience. These practice groups, called Improv 102, Improv 202 and Improv 302 will be two-hour drop-in classes that help reinforce the concepts you are learning in Improv 101, Improv 201 and Improv 301. And they won’t just be for students in the equivalent levels – anyone who is a current or former student in the matching level can take the classes, so you’ll be free to come back to Improv 102 for a week and brush up on basics if you’ve moved on. Our X02 classes will be free for students enrolled in any class or elective during the current session and students who are between classes will be able to come for a small fee – payable in cash at the door.

Making up classes will also be easier since we will now be able to offer you multiple make-up opportunities in the same week.

All of these changes are in addition to the updates we continuously make to our curriculum based on years of feedback from students, instructors and the many guests we host each year for workshops.

Along with these changes and all the new benefits they entail we are also going to be increasing class prices to $249 for early registration and $299 for late registration. This is the first time we have raised the prices for class at PHIT in 5 years and we will believe it’s a very good deal. A comparable class in town at The Walnut Street Theater (the only training center bigger than PHIT’s in Philadelphia) is $250. If you travel to Chicago for a class at The Second City or iO class prices are $280-$360, and in New York the classes range from $400-$475 at the UCB Theatre.

There’s a lot of work happening at the theater right now to prepare for the switch to sessions and I couldn’t be happier doing it. It’s all very good news for students and for the Philly comedy community overall. Thank you for continuing to come and play, audition and perform, and spread the word.

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Meet the New Hosts of “The Theme Show” – ManiPedi!

PHIT’s monthly “The Theme Show” pulls together sketches from local groups and creates one-of-a-kind shows that all relate to a specific theme, like this week’s upcoming show “Let’s Eat!” We asked the new hosts of the show, Philly super group ManiPedi, to answer a few questions about the show and what they’re bringing to the table. Here’s what they had to say for themselves…ManiPedi2013Big

PHIT: What attracted you to becoming the new hosts of The Theme Show?

ManiPedi: We were avid fans and regular performers on the show! Also, Brian Kelly asked us, and when Brian Kelly asks you to host Theme Show, you say “How high?” (Disclaimer: We are not actually high when we host the theme show, even though the next theme is “Let’s Eat!”)

PHIT: Are you hoping to change the show in any way or add new and exciting stuff?

ManiPedi: Any time we can eat stuff on stage, we will- so expect a lot of that! We also thought it’d be fun to make it more interactive, so we’ll involve the audience at times both during the show and hopefully in the near future with fun contests/games online!

PHIT: The Halloween edition of the show (The Rocky Horror Sketch Show) was a pretty awesome debut of your group as the new hosts. Will all of the shows be as over the top and crazy?

ManiPedi: Thank you! We love compliments! Everyone on the show brought their A-game, as they always do, and that has always made the show! And yes, there will be more over the top stuff- we wanted to make the RHTS especially interactive and campy for the movie, but we’ll keep up the production value and weirdness for all future Theme Shows!

PHIT: What are your thoughts about the sketch scene in Philly? Be brutal.

It’s the worst! SIKE! We love it- we are constantly inspired by all of the existing and new teams in the city, and all of us are even involved in other sketch endeavors (SHAMELESS PLUG TIME: Dog Mountain, The Flat Earth, Goat Rodeo, Local Holiday Miracle). Oh right, the people don’t want to hear that…so…dirt, dirt, garbage, disposal, truck. TRASH TALK!

PHIT: ManiPedi is like the first ladies of Philly sketch, and I’m sure you have a million fans. What’s the weirdest piece of fan mail you’ve ever received?

ManiPedi: Oooh, First Ladies! YES! That means we’re like the Bette Midler of Philly Sketch! Oh wait…that’s the First Wives Club…does Philly have a First Wives Club? If so, can we join without marrying people?

As for fan mail, we once received a mysterious statue that looked like all of us combined and it’s eyes glow red, and now none of us have souls.

PHIT: Any final thoughts or words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers with?

ManiPedi: Never leave home without snacks, and always keep a full sheet cake in your car, should the occasion arise!

Check out our next Theme Show presents… Let’s Eat! this Friday at 10PM!

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Announcing Our New Improv House Team Casts and Current Team Updates!

RalphSmallAfter a weekend filled with hours of auditions and great performances by talented players, lists have been culled, decisions made, and PHIT is now proud to announce the casts for our three new Improv House Teams! The new teams will be:

Codename Frostfangs – Directed by Nick Mirra
Lizzie Burrows, Andrew Coppola, AJ Horan, Nicole Labrecque, Kevin Quirk, Raja Rajanathan, Sam Scavuzzo, Joe Tuzzi, Zach Uzupis

Codename Nymeria – Directed by Jessica Ross
Hannah Datz, Joe Gates, Jimi Haak, Derrick Hackett, Brendan Kingston, Danielle Klaiman, Jeff Kremzier, Rachel Semigran, Adam Steiger

Codename Highgarden – Directed by Caitlin Weigel
Rob Alesiani, Ronnie Clarkson, Tyler Garamella, Tom Hannigan, Robert O’Neill, Erin Pitts, Adam Siry, McGair Valois, Corin Wells

Congratulations to everyone cast on teams this time around! I know I speak for the PHIT Artistic Team when I say I’m pretty excited to see these teams debut on our new stage in January!

Also, exciting news for one of our existing House Teams! Mike Marbach, PHIT’s Education Director and director of former PHIT House Team Asteroid! will now be the new director for PHIT House Team The Future. Along with Mike, The Future welcomes new cast member Caitlin Weigel. Congrats to The Future, and good luck with your new members!

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to come out and audition this past weekend. We continue to be blown away by the talent here in Philadelphia, and a lot of that talent was on display at auditions. Please keep learning, growing, and performing. We look forward to seeing you at future rounds of auditions!

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