An Improvised Musical: So funny, you’ll sing

by Caitlin Cohen

The Upfront Theatre has been bringing laughter and amusement to the residents of Bellingham through various genres of improvised comedy—murder mystery, the old west, and even outer space. Now, the Upfront is reaching a new level of improvised comedy through musicals.

The musicals first came to life last year, when the Upfront started playing around with new genre ideas. The Upfront had done a few of the musical performances for a weekend or two and noticed how much the audience connected with these comedic musicals and decided to perform these more often. This weekend was the opening weekend to An Improvised Musical.

Although the musical will be performed every weekend through July, the performance will change every time. No two musicals will mirror each other as it’s up to the audience to decided the fate for the performers.

The format for each show is that the audience members suggest a location and an adjective. These get blended together to create the overall plot of the musical. The performers act as if the musical was planned out and rehearsed—you know, as if the production were straight off of Broadway and brought to Bellingham.

“Not every comedian is a good singer but the audiences really connect with these characters that our team creates and really get themselves involved with the plot. The audience roots for these characters to find their true loves or triumph on their epic adventures. It’s amazing to watch the classic story structure naturally come up as the musical develops,” said Matt Lesinski, Sales and Marketing Director.

Every staff member and comedian at the Upfront loves what they do and have formed a strong team and family: each member searching for new ways to challenge and widen their world of comedy.

An improvised musical means the comedians have to come up with songs on the spot. Which is a challenge in on it’s own. However, it’s almost been effortless for the comedians at the Upfront to craft a catchy, memorable song that audience members can connect to.

Musicals give each comedian a unique opportunity to spice up their ensemble with singing and dancing. Not only is this satisfying for the comedians, it’s also beneficial for the audience.

The improvised musicals give regular audience members a new faucet of performance with fresh jokes, new characters, exciting and different plots, and catchy yet hilarious songs that remain with the audience well beyond the show. This change in comedy also attracts new audience members that will want to keep coming back for more.

It’s the challenge of new material and the touching feeling when the audience connects with these songs and characters that keeps the Upfront family committed and passionate about this new project. What really is sweet is how humbly Matt expressed his appreciation for the audience.

“It’s when I hear other patrons make inside jokes based off of the songs in the musicals or see them really taking away from what was performed for them is when you know your audience had a great experience,” he said. “It’s that kind of reaction from the audience that makes the team and I extremely proud of what we do.”

An Improvised Musical runs every Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. through July 30. Advance tickets are available on the Upfront’s website (theupfront.com) or the night of the show if available. Doors open 45 minutes before show time for walk-up sales. See the website for additional information.

Published in the July 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine