Thursday, September 27, 2012



We're big fans of improv.   I founded Tower Players Improv Troupe back in 1987 and performed with them at Miami University for several years.  The award winning troupe went on to last over 20 years and many of the alums are performing nationwide, including Chicago!   ChiIL Live Shows  covers the big improv fests, and local improv offerings as often as possible. 
Honestly, we haven't had a spare Saturday to check this one out in person, but I love the concept that this is family friendly improv, so you can bring the littles without fear of F Bombs, and still get all the creativity, edginess, and immediacy of improv theatre fun.

Second City Theatricals presents the G-rated "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" at UP Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave, 3rd Floor Saturday's at 12 noon, now through December and into 2013. Tickets are $11. Doors open at 11 a.m. Lunch is available before and during the show for an additional charge (kids and regular menus are available). For tickets or more information, call 312.662.4562 or visit

A quintet of Second City's best lace up their sneakers and reach deep into their imaginations to present "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!," an hour of interactive, family friendly improvisation comedy based on ideas straight from the audience, and made up on the spot. The Chicago Tribune hails the show as "empowering for a kid…refreshing" and Chicago Parent calls it “high-energy and hilarious!” "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" is perfect for birthday parties and field trips, and is recommended for ages 5 – 12.

The rotating cast of ten actors for "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" includes Ross Bryant, Chelsea Devantez, John Hartman, Hans Holsen, Becky Poole, John Sabine, Nate Sherman, Katie Thomas, Katie Klein and Scott Morehead. The creative team includes ensemble includes Reid Janisse (Director), Anthony LeBlanc (Assistant Director), Tara Trudel (Musical Director), Greg Mulvey (Lead Video Editor) and CJ Arellano (Video Editor/Graphics). Stage manager is Meghan Teal.

"Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" is one of four theatrical productions currently playing in the UP Comedy Club, a new hybrid performance venue with an eclectic blend of comedy. In addition to a diverse slate of original programming, UP Comedy Club also features a full service restaurant and bar with a Chicago-style menu that includes Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza, Vienna Beef and Eli's Cheesecake. This custom designed, new cabaret-style club includes state of the art audio visual capabilities, in an inviting room wrapped with intimate booth seating, and two levels of cabaret-style seating for around 300 guests. Additional information can be found at


ROSS BRYANT (Ensemble) is a graduate of the NC School of the Arts and Appalachian State. Ross travelled the world as a member of Second City’s Touring Company, performs at the iO Theater, and is an ensemble member of Improvised Shakespeare and Baby Wants Candy. He has also been seen at ComedySportz Chicago, in the Mediterranean Sea with Second City and hosting the comedy rap battle HATERADE.
He co-wrote Second City’s "Wildcat on a Hot Tin Roof" for Northwestern.
CHELSEA DEVANTEZ (Ensemble) grew up in every state in the Southwest, studied at NYU and fell in love with Chicago. She recently performed in Second City’s "Charmed and Dangerous" in Baltimore and before that, spent four months with Second City at Sea on a cruise ship. She improvises at iO with "A Raptor," and writes songs with DING!
JOHN HARTMAN (Ensemble), member of The Second City Touring Company, wrote and performed "Your Friends and Enemies" and "I’m Sorry I Missed You" at the Annoyance, for which he received Time Out Chicago’s Critic’s Picks, and has performed at the TBS Just for Laughs Festival. He improvises at iO with The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience & Hootenanny and Murderers and at the Apollo with Baby Wants Candy. John has written for "Chicago Live!" on WGN Radio with The Second City and the Chicago Tribune.
HANS HOLSEN (Ensemble) has improvised and performed scripted comedy here at Second City, at iO, The Annoyance, and ComedySportz, among others, and improvises with The Improvised Shakespeare Company and Baby Wants Candy. He toured the U.S. with The Second City Touring Company for two years and toured The Netherlands with Boom Chicago for two years as well.
KATIE KLEIN (Ensemble) Before arriving in Chicago she graduated from Indiana University and lived in D.C. where she performed with Comedy Sportz and iMusical. In Chicago she has trained with iO and The Second City, and can be seen playing with Hey, Rocket!, Sit Still and her partner-in crime, in their tag-team duo, Ed and Kath.
SCOTT MOREHEAD (Ensemble) in addition to performing in the "Improv Extravaganza Explosion!" Morehead performs with The Late 90’s at the iO Theatre and can regularly be seen at The Annoyance, CIC (w/ CPL), and The Second City. He also performs at the Apollo Theatre with the improvised musical geniuses of Baby Wants Candy.
BECKY POOLE’S (Ensemble) recent Chicago performances include the Chicago Children’s Theatre production of "Goodnight Moon," The Hypocrites, "Pirates of Penzance," "Chalk & Saltwater" with the Neofuturists, and her solo sketch show at iO "Sit on My Lapse." Becky has done voice over work for Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network, Nintendo Wii and various other projects. She is a co-founder of SketchFest NYC and has performed with sketch comedy groups MEAT and Becky & Noelle across the country.
JOHN SABINE (Ensemble) Originally from Dallas, he graduated from Santa Clara University with a BA in Theatre and Dance. After moving to Chicago to attend Second City’s Comedy Studies Program, he studied at the Second City Training Center and iO. He can be seen around Chicago performing with The Late 90’s. He recently performed with The Second City on Norwegian Cruise Line’s The Epic and BenchCo.
NATE SHERMAN (Ensemble) started performing Improv Comedy at The Ohio State University with the College Group, The 8th Floor. He is a current member of the iO Harold Team, The Late 90’s and an original cast member of "Oprah! A Comedy! Live Your Best Laugh!" at the Annoyance Theater.
KATIE THOMAS (Ensemble) This Detroit native and University of Michigan graduate has performed at The Second City, iO, The Annoyance, and ComedySportz. She currently performs with her beloved independent team, The Katydids, and Uncle Magic. She spent last summer in Alaska performing on the Norwegian Star. Katie is a yoga instructor and teaches improv to teenagers. Find out more at
TARA TRUDEL (Musical Director) has been the Music Director for productions by The Second City directing program, Comedy Sportz, Vampeero, and Storytown. She has taught music and songwriting for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Merit School of Music and performs children’s concerts around Chicago. She can also be seen at TT and Friends, her monthly talent showcase at Scarlet Bar.
MEGHAN TEAL (Stage Manager) Second City credits include: the 99th Mainstage Revue "South Side of Heaven," Second City Theatricals regional revues in D.C., Baltimore, Arizona, and Philadelphia; and she was a member of The Second City Touring Company for more than five years. Other credits include; "A Catered Affair" with Porchlight Music Theatre and various productions at the Annoyance Theatre and iO.
REID JANISSE (Director) is an Alumnus of The Second City Toronto where he wrote and performed in four Mainstage reviews including the Canadian Comedy Award winning "Barack to the Future" and "0% Down, 100% Screwed." For more than ten years he has been the Creative Director of Mad Science Productions, where he has written and directed shows that have played for thousands of family audiences across The United States, Canada, Mexico, Taiwan and Korea. Recent writing and directing credits include "Star Trek: Live" and "CSI: Live (Mad Science)," "Miracle on Mercer St." (Second City) and "Stop Punching Judy: (SC Edco). He currently writes, directs and teaches for The Second City Toronto, is a regular Theatresports cast member at Toronto’s Comedy Bar, and works in film and television in Canada.
ANTHONY LEBLANC (Assistant Director) is from Beaumont, TX. He performed with Boxaganga while obtaining a Computer Science and Physics BS at Loyola University New Orleans. An original member of DSI: The Beatbox, He wrote two Second City Chicago Main Stage Revues, "America: All Better" and "Taming of the Flu."


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