ALL SKATE Musical Improv Plays the Hudson

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All Skate, known as the "Instant Broadway Musical," will be back on the Comedy Central Stage at the Hudson for a live show on Wednesday, January 12th. The show is free but has limited seating. You can make reservations by calling 323-960-5519.

The idea for the wacky group came about when two actors who had studied at Second City Hollywood decided they wanted to take their improv one step further. Lani Shipman and Wendy Rosoff created their own group and invited fellow Second City alum Michael Churven to join them. Then came the task of finding the rest of the cast.

Shipman says, "It actually took awhile to find the perfect combination of players - actors with a very strong musical theatre background, solid improvisational skills, the ability to crack each other up in rehearsals, and ultimately be amazing ensemble members on stage."

Currently that ensemble includes Shipman, Rosoff, and Churven, along with Parvesh Cheena (from NBC's Outsourced), Tom Christensen, Kerri-Anne Lavin, and Sarah Moreau.

She adds that it's the musicality that sets All Skate apart from other musical improv groups. "We knew that the musicianship was super important to us because of our backgrounds. We had seen some phenomenal musical improv, but we hadn't seen the two worlds of advanced musicianship and really smart long form improv collide in quite this way before. Because of the sounds, the harmonies, and the structure of our songs, audience members continually forget that we are making everything up on the spot, which lets us know we're doing our job."

Each show begins with a suggestion from the audience that becomes the launching pad for that night's musical. "We've also had some fabulous guest stars jump up on stage with us, which has been a total blast," says Rosoff. "For example, I'd never met Brendan Hunt (Savin' Up For Saturday Night) before he joined us in How Do I Feel?...Armenia! That night was what improv dreams are made of."

By design, improv can be quite an adrenaline rush for The Players, and Rosoff heartily agrees. "It's exhilarating and nerve wracking all at the same time. Think of the feeling you get when you hear the slow click, click, click of a roller coaster as you're climbing to the top and about to free fall down! You have no idea what's about to happen, but you're pretty sure it's going to be an amazing ride. Coming from musical theatre and such a disciplined background, the idea that there's no game plan - no script, no sheet music, and no set choreography - is beyond creatively satisfying! "

The audience can always expect the unexpected at an All Skate performance but sometimes it's the cast that's the last to find out what's going on, like the night Shipman says their accompanist left during the show.

"We were doing a benefit performance, and our accompanist apparently had somewhere else to be so halfway through the show, he left...unbeknownst to us. HE. LEFT. We're not sure how long we were out there without an accompanist, because by the time we noticed anything weird, there was an entirely different pianist on stage with us. Audience members were watching this all go down without us even being aware of it."

As for the future of All Skate and words of wisdom to the masses: "World Domination!" laughs Rosoff. "Oh, and when you find yourself in awkward situations in life, just break into an impromptu song and dance. It makes everything better."

You can see the group in action on Wednesday, January 12th at 8pm at the Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038. And if you're not able to make the Comedy Central show, you can also catch them at the Second City Hollywood every other Friday evening at 8pm in All Skate and Friends.

For more information about the group and to view clips from their shows, go to www.allskatemusicalimprov.com.

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Ellen Dostal In addition to being part of the west coast Broadway World team, Ellen also publishes two popular Southern California Theatre Blogs - Musicals in LA and Shakespeare in LA. An actress, singer and voiceover artist, she is also a producer with the Academy for New Musical Theatre, and works with the development of new musicals across the country.


 
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