Sahan Jayasuriya

ComedySportz celebrates a year of T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical)

ComedySportz continues to innovate with T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical). The improv group celebrates T.I.M.'s successful first year on Thursday night.

By - Jul 18th, 2012 04:29 pm
TIM's actors and musicians: bottom row (left to right): Mara McGhee, Mary Kelly, Patricio Amerena, Nevin Langhus , Mike Kellar  top row: Robby McGhee, Mary Baird, Jordan Gwiazdowski, Jacob Bach, Matt Bozora , Colleen Schmitt, Steve Baird

TIM’s actors and musicians: bottom row (left to right): Mara McGhee, Mary Kelly, Patricio Amerena, Nevin Langhus , Mike Kellar top row: Robby McGhee, Mary Baird, Jordan Gwiazdowski, Jacob Bach, Matt Bozora , Colleen Schmitt, Steve Baird

While ComedySportz has been one of the premier spots for improv in Milwaukee for nearly two decades, the group’s innovation continues. Beginning in 2011, the group has been putting on T.I.M. (The Improvised Musical)—a completely improvised, free form two-act musical. T.I.M. celebrates its one year anniversary on Thursday, July 19.

It’s been a successful year for The Improvised Musical, but it took some convincing to put together “the show that could be anything, but definitely sings.”

“I came to Mary (Baird, the show’s producer) with the idea of it based on something I saw at at ComedySportz tournament where they did a 10-minute improv musical,” said cast member Jacob Bach. “From there I came up with the idea of an hour to hour-and-a-half musical with a full band. It took a few weeks of convincing.”

“Yeah, I didn’t agree to it right away,” Baird said. “I had some experience with producing independent shows with no funding. We started out with a workshop to see how everything would go, and the interest in it was overwhelming. We figured we’d do about six months of rehearsals, and after six weeks we were ready to go.”

A cast and crew of twelve work together to produce the show. The premise is simple: the cast takes an idea from the audience and turns it into a one-of-a-kind musical.

“At the beginning of the show, we ask the audience for the title of a musical that has never been done before,” said cast member Robby McGhee. “From there, we develop these characters and the relationships among them, and we turn it into this long-form musical that they’ve never seen before and will never see again.”

The impulsive nature of each musical is completely dependent on the performers’ abilities and preparedness in the art of improv, both on stage and in the pit.

“We try to read the scene and get a feel for what sort of music would fit best” said keyboardist Colleen Schmitt. “Sometimes its harder to choose a style to do, but we try to go with what works best”

“We definitely are trying to make it sound like the music from a musical score,” said guitarist Steve Baird. “We’ve got the typical “person walking through the town”-type openers, and the slow ballads too. No matter what the style, though, I always try to make it have that flair of musical theatre.”

Things have improved as the shows have progressed, with both the band and performers getting a better handle on the concept. With the show being completely randomized and dependent on the audience’s creativity, each show is one of a kind. This has produced some rather interesting musicals, among them being “Robot, Monkey, Clown,” “Unicorns are Cool,” “Hey, Look at that Dog!” and “Puppies, Ponies and Polyjuice Potions,” the latter title being a Harry Potter reference, which the cast turned into a musical about slugs. Needless to say, sometimes the title given to the cast is taken in a very different direction than what its creator may have envisioned

The focus is on extracting a specific idea from the audience, said cast member Mary Kelly.

“We keep it somehow based around that, and I think an audience would much rather see us give them something new and organic than us just interpret it in the most literal way possible.”

The cast was kind enough to give me my own personal mini-T.I.M. performance, based off of my phrase suggestion, “Drunk Girl at the Get Up Kids show.” If Thursday night’s performance is anything like that, the audience is in for a real treat.

“Its just a fun way to spend a Thursday evening, and with it starting at 7:30 p.m., it’s not too late.” said cast member Mara McGhee. “Plus, there’s free champagne”.

This Thursday marks the one year anniversary of ComedySportz’s T.I.M.: The Improvised Musical performances. The $5 admission includes a glass of champagne (for audience members of age), and the performance starting at 7:30 p.m.

Check out a preview here:

Sahan Jayasuriya (@sahanicyouth) and social media specialist Lucky Tomaszek (@luckyinmke) will be there to live-tweet the one year anniversary performance. If you’ll be there, tag your tweets with #TCDsummer to join the conversation. See you there!

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