Review of Jan. 9th Needs Improvment show

Sara Hogenboom, Staff Writer

Seniors Kako Yamada, Rachel Hechinger, Sean McDonough and Kaitlynd Collins, and Junior Rianna Cranberg perform improv as part of Needs Improvment.
Seniors Kako Yamada, Rachel Hechinger, Sean McDonough and Kaitlynd Collins, and Junior Rianna Cranberg perform improv as part of Needs Improvment.

By Sara Hogeboom

A piano plays pop power ballads in the corner of the Roberts-Dubbs Auditorium. The audience mills around while listening to classics such as “Tell Me More” from “Grease” and “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from “Hairspray.” The audience members take their seats in front of the red velvet curtain, and the atmosphere is playful as the audience anticipates the show. People crowd toward the seats in the front. The closer, the better.

The roughly 90-minute show on Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. began with an appearance of the Yellow Submarine Improv Troupe from Boston Latin School, whose colorfulness and imagination started the night off on a good note. The first improv game required the audience to pick a location in which two students would have to base a scene, while other performers looked for opportunities to “tap in.” The chosen location was a “salad bar” which the Improv Troupe promptly took its own hilarious spin on. It became a salad-themed drinking house, which then spun into a “meat bar” and a “tickle bar”. The end of the scene was a battle in court over who had ownership of the bars, with the audience supplying uproarious laughter.

After the Yellow Submarine Improv Troupe received their due credit with a round of applause, they bounced off the stage.

Needs Improvment came on stage by hiding themselves in the audience and jeering at the stage. When two of them came out from behind the red curtain dressed and acting as pretentious hipsters, the whole of Needs Improvment was asked to join them.

They wasted no time in getting to the improvisation. The first game was called “God,” where senior Sean McDonough played the “God” who could periodically pause an improv scene going on and completely change its direction. The audience suggested words on which the performers could base their scene off, including “cheese,” “puberty,” and “death,” but the chosen word was “2005 Honda Accord.” The scene took the audience on a hilarious ride with several generations of the characters’ lives playing out at the command of “God.”

The next game played was “Film and TV styles,” where three people came up for the scene and had to figure out a relationship between them at the suggestions of the audience. Then, drama teacher Mark Vanderzee called out different genres of film or television for the scene to be acted in the style of. The relationship chosen was the “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” in the styles of “Telanovella”, and “Sci-Fi Sitcom”.

Another game required four people, two of whom needed to be selling a CD with songs made up by the ther two. With suggestions from the audience the CD was to be “Morgan Freeman’s voice” and with this hilarity ensued. Junior Matthew Morgan was a DJ at a local radio station interviewing Morgan Freeman, played by Senior Finn McMillan, about his new movie “God” where he released his soundtrack of the movie, with all original songs. Standing on the platform above juniors Gabe Doyle and Sophia Pouzyrev sang the songs made up on the spot with a little prompting. The scene showed the groups exceptional musical and imaginative prowess. With rhymes, catchy melodies and chorus and their own dance moves Doyle and Pouzyrev improvised songs entitled “Shake it Till You Make it” and “Black Leather, Blue Leather” that had the audience stomping their feet and clapping along.

One of the highlights of the night was “Things You Never Hear” for which the audience suggested locations on slips of paper prior to the show read aloud by Vanderzee throughout the scene. Everyone from Needs Improvment and the Yellow Submarine Improv Troupe came on stage to form a line all the way across, in anticipation of the locations being said. As locations were called out, “Things You Never Hear in Goodwill”, “Things You Never Hear in a Musical”, and “Things You Never Hear in the Womb”, performers stepped forward to spin witty one-liners. This scene had a quick and whimsical feel to it. The one-liners showed off the combined groups ability to think on the spot and collaborate with each other. The audience was engaged and laughing the whole time as was demanded by the nature of the scene.

The show was more than entertaining with its imaginativeness and comedic risks. The scenes took unexpected twists and turns, in some games the characters actually evolved through their comedic exploits. Every scene had the audience in stitches, with both jokes timely and others classics of the genre. With this groups’ talented abilities the Needs Improvment show delighted all.

Sara Hogenboom can contacted at [email protected]