An improvisational comedy troupe from New York City is bringing its act to Weyauwega.
LMAO Off Broadway will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Gerold Opera House, 136 E. Main St.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and available online at wegaarts.org and at the Coffee Klatsch in Weyauwega. They will also be available at the door.
“Studying and performing improvisation trains actors to respond quickly and to commit to actions quickly and fully, both of which stand them in very good stead because often, actors may tend to try too hard to get things too right. Sometimes, actors may take themselves out of the energy of the piece,” said Kathy Fehl, artistic director of Wega Arts, the non-profit organization which formed in 2007 and operates out of the opera house.
This is not the first time such an act is performing at the Gerold.
Eight is Never Enough performed there in 2008, as part of its last Midwest tour.
Carrie Gruman-Trinkner, Weyauwega-Fremont’s choral and drama director, had a connection to the group.
Families from throughout the area attended, and the performance almost sold out.
Shortly after returning to New York City, the troupe left the comedy stages of New York to play Off Broadway.
LMAO Off Broadway formed in the fall of 2009 and is currently in residence at the Broadway Comedy Club.
The group also tours theaters, clubs and colleges nationwide.
LMAO stands for “Laugh Your Ankles Off,” and their shows present comedy which maintains language and subject matter suitable for all ages – their recommendation is age 5 and up.
Younger children will be welcome to sit in the orchestra area on the floor picnic style with their popcorn to best see the cast on stage.
The troupe will also offer a bonus master class at 5 p.m. for high school aged students who are interested in learning about improv comedy.
Teens from throughout the area are invited to the free class.
In addition, Weyauwega-Fremont’s resident comedy troupes Punchline! and Slapstick will be the opening act for the 7 p.m. show.
“We think it’s great for them to work next to a professional group. It gives them the realization that if they really want it to be, it can be a professional job,” Fehl said.
With improv, the more people do it, the better they get, she said.
“It’s a very useful technique for any actor,” Fehl said.
Ian Teal, executive director of Wega Arts, did a lot of improv and was part of a group which performed on the East Coast. They wrote their own material, and he also taught children improv, Fehl said.
“We’re looking to start improv classes next summer for all ages,” Fehl said.
She said improvisational comedy is part of American culture, with The Second City, of Chicago, particularly having an influence.
The Second City opened its doors in 1959.
Its roots were in the improvisational games of Viola Spolin.
The Second City developed a unique way of creating and performing comedy. It was founded by Spolin’s son, Paul Sills, along with Howard Alk and Bernie Sahlins.
The theater became internationally known for its increasing roster of comedy superstars with the debut of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner among the Second City alumni.
When LMAO takes the stage in Weyauwega on Oct. 9, returning from its 2008 cast will be founding members (since 2002) Walt Frasier and Laurice Fattal.
Frasier costarred on CBS’ “Blue Bloods” and was formerly seen on Letterman, MTV, VH1, NICK, WE and other commercials. He is also the director of instruction for the Comedy Hall of Fame Foundation.
Also with the 2013 tour is Amelia Fowler, who has been a member since 2009, and Patrick Reidy, the group’s musical director and a member since 2010.
Fowler recently wrapped up filming a new Chris Rock movie and recently played Ella Fitzgerald in an upcoming Indy film.
Now a junior member of the cast is Weyauwega native James Patrick (PJ) Anacker, who was a member of Punchline! in 2008, when he was a senior at W-F High School.
Anacker is performing in shows and gigs around New York City, mainly through LMAO’s outreach program and public showcases at the Broadway Comedy Club.
Members of the cast met Anacker the last time they performed at the Gerold, and Frasier became a mentor of sorts for Anacker via Facebook.
When Anacker moved to New York City last spring, LMAO brought him on as an intern.
Fehl said Frasier is very enterprising and does a lot of work with schools.
“We’ve been in conversation with Walt about a year, planning,” she said.