Entertainment » Theatre

Sondheim UnScripted

by Michelle  Sandoval
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Sep 9, 2015
Sondheim UnScripted

I've had the pleasure of seeing a handful of Impro Theatre's unscripted works. Whether they are delving into the supernatural with their Twilight Zone bits, or wrangling the Wild, Wild West, the talented group are always impressive. This time they are delving into the world of "Sondheim Unscripted," looking at a musical genius in his own right, and they conquer the art of improv and song masterfully.

The great thing about the Impro Theatre team is that not only are they expert improvisers, but they promise a fresh, new show every night they perform. Taking suggestions entirely from the audience at the beginning of each show ensures that if you're a fan, you'll never see the same show twice.

The story I saw revolved around a crockpot, because when the audience is asked for suggestions, they take no mercy on the actors. So, there was a magical crockpot, Zeus and his Greek gods, time travel, love and romance and it somehow was created into a cohesive story. There's no way the actors could have been prepared for that. This is the third time I've seen the Impro Theatre but never have I been more utterly impressed with them. The songs were all made up on the spot, improv is hard enough on its own, throw in a musical aspect and what you get is something extraordinary.

The show was led by charismatic musical director Peter Smith, who almost fell off of his bench with laughter. Standout performances were delivered by Floyd VanBuskirk who played quite a powerful Zeus, Brian Michael Jones as a silly, love stuck human and Ryan Smith as an even sillier love struck Hades. Lisa Fredickson and Kelly Holden Basher also stole the show as a couple of best friend underworld Goddess' who spend their free time traveling across times and dimensions seducing unsuspecting humans. Directed by Dan O'Conner and Michele Spears, the two, along with their talented cast took the art of improv and Sondheim to new levels.

In the Director's Note in the program they are quoted as saying, "Sondheim is always experimenting with form, stretching the conventions of musical theatre in original ways. In that we share a common goal. Impro Theatre is always striving to progress theatrically." This rings so true, as a frequent Impro Theatre audience member, they get bigger and better with every show.

I've said this before, but my favorite thing about improv has always been when the actors on stage put each other on the spot, asking for a song. "Sondheim Unscripted" is one and a half hours of just that! It was such a treat to see this show, The Impro Theatre handles these scenarios like true professionals and never disappoint in their delivery.

If you're looking for some laughs and just an all-around good time, I suggest checking out Impro Theatre's "Sondheim Unscripted." The Falcon Theatre itself is a truly a theatrical gem and just a lovely, little theatre. Not only is it charming, but they have a continuous record for putting out quality material, but I guess when you have a talented group like the Impro Theatre professionals slotted throughout your season you really can't go wrong.

"Sondheim Unscripted" runs through Sept. 27 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Dr. in Burbank. For information or tickets, call 818-955-8101 or visit www.FalconTheatre.com.

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