by Mallika Rao
This semester, Mount Saint Mary College’s theatre took it upon themselves to produce an entirely improvised show. That’s right; no script, no filter, no idea of what to do. Fortunately, students were able to tread these choppy waters smoothly without any sudden breaks or pauses in between. From celebrity impressions to scene studies, twelve students brought out their best when it came to putting on a spectacular show.
Professor James Phillips, head of the Mount Saint Mary College theatre department and director of the show, felt that an improv feature was a “necessity.” He goes on to say, “Aquinas Theatre was really booked this semester, so we decided to perform an improv show that didn’t require a set to be constructed. I also have an educational goal that students will be developed and challenged creatively.”
Freshman Alex Flores shares Phillips’s sentiment: “I think it was a good idea to start an improv group. We all learned to clear our minds and come out with ideas on the spot.”
“You get a sudden shot of inspiration,” adds fellow freshman Billy Biersack.
The show was opened by Professor Phillips himself with a “guess-my-weight” exercise. The winner of this would receive a free, “fashion-forward” Improvocative t-shirt.
Eight students showed up for each round of improv, and were presented with a topic from the audience. “Detectives” was the first topic, and was brought to life by a scene where two murder victims were killed by a knife and a ruler, respectively. Celebrity impressions included senior Genesis Valverde’s Lauryn Hill, and our very own Erin-Therese Vecchi’s Kristen Stewart.
The second topic was suggested by junior Corrine McLaughlin: peanut butter and bananas. This topic was used for a segment where the students played a word association game, but with songs. The first song that popped up was “Peanut Butter Jelly Time,” a popular Internet meme. Eventually, this evolved into Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”–a possible nod to her recent death–and the Barney theme song. From there, a scenario revolving around a taping of “Barney and Friends” was introduced. Several other scenarios came next, from a zoo scenario where monkeys behave badly to an interview with the Bananas in Pajamas.
Yet another Whitney Houston tribute appeared in the next topic: time travel. Vecchi and junior Sarah Fulton decided to rescue Houston and other dead celebrities after watching the iconic diva’s E! True Hollywood Story. They ended up going back to 1990 to rescue Michael Jackson, played by Alexander Flores, who at the time was very much African American, and still only considered semi-weird. Flores harked back to his appearance as Rocky in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for this performance, where he break-danced without his shirt. This time around, celebrity impressions included Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. In possibly the funniest moment of the night, a Jersey Shore casting call ended this final round of improv. Biersack’s Robert Pattinson was told to get his “GTL” on after auditioning.
If you feel like you missed out on a great night, don’t feel so bad; there are still two more shows for the remaining of the semester. The next show is April 2nd at Railroad Playhouse. Come by one of the shows and watch what Mount Saint Mary College’s group “Improvacative” has to offer.