Stevie Ray's Comedy Cabaret Offers Fun & Innovative Programming To Chanhassen Dinner Theatres For 35th Anniversary

Stevie Ray's Improv Company was founded in 1989 to bring new comedic talent to the stage, whether it be improv, standup, sketch comedy, or acts that defy definition.

By: Feb. 19, 2024
Stevie Ray's Comedy Cabaret Offers Fun & Innovative Programming To Chanhassen Dinner Theatres For 35th Anniversary
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.




Existing user? Just click login.

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres has presented Stevie Ray's Comedy Cabaret in its Playhouse Theatre for some 30 years with a collaborative association that began in 1993. 2024 marks the 35th anniversary of Stevie Ray's, and lots of new things are on the horizon to celebrate.

First, Stevie Ray's Improv Company was founded in 1989 to bring new comedic talent to the stage, whether it be improv, standup, sketch comedy, or acts that defy definition. Stevie Ray's goal has always been to help new artists find a voice and they are proud that many of their members have become mainstays in the performing arts community – in the Twin Cities and beyond. Stevie Ray's also does its best to bring laughter and joy to audiences, Said Stevie Ray, “When people laugh together, something magical happens; they see beyond their differences and realize that we're more alike than we are different.”

For those unfamiliar with the Improv Comedy art form, it's very fun and highly entertaining. Performers take suggestions from audience members and make up physical comedy routines from those suggestions right on the spot. The show is as funny, quick and clever as the quality of the suggestions and performers, and it is different every single time. In addition, Stevie Ray's prides itself on being one more thing, it's clean. As Stevie says, “We do our best to offer comedy performances to entertain rather than offend, to delight rather than shock, and to have you leave the theatre feeling better than when you arrived.”

When Stevie Ray's first started nearly 35 years ago, the intent was to focus on all things comedy – not only improv. Said Pamela Mayne, “Interestingly, we fell into this niche and people really leaned into it, so much so that the improv company offers classes for new artists to hone their skills, and a corporate training focus to teach employees how to think effectively on their feet during challenging situations in the workplace, and also sharpen presentation skills, enhance team-building, and even improve work performance. Said Stevie Ray, “The art of improv is what has made our business so successful and brought us to this place, but we want to remain true to our original plan and broaden things.” And to that end, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is announcing some new things.

Loyal Laugher's Club

 

First, CDT has initiated the LOYAL LAUGHER'S CLUB now available for purchase. “This is something we've tossed around for a while,” stated Stevie. “When we first started at Chanhassen, the goal was to offer a lower ticket price in a more casual atmosphere, which gave people the ability to visit more frequently. The theatre also offered a more casual menu and the ability to order food and beverage items throughout the production, something not offered in The Other Theatre spaces.”  Starting now, guests can purchase a LOYAL LAUGHER'S CLUB ticket for $75. This allows a guest to attend as often as they like during a four-month period for that one price (for one person). Guests can extend their membership every four months if they choose. Stevie continued, “We want the LOYAL LAUGHER'S CLUB to be an option for fans, the repeat guests who are loyal to us and this awesome location here at the Chan. We want it to be a casual decision – ‘hey let's check out what Stevie Ray's has going tonight,' and for it to be a spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous option. The location is convenient for many (because one doesn't have to drive downtown) and parking is free.” Beyond that, the troupe changes often. Currently, there are 20 members in the troupe. In order to keep growing new talent Stevie and Pamela want to mix it up often giving audiences the opportunity to see many different combinations of performers.

Stevie and Pamela want people to know that the work they do is not all about just putting on a fun show. “We try to actually connect with our audiences before every show.” He tells the story of a woman who thanked him for making her mom laugh for the first time in over a year following a family tragedy. “We know it means a lot to people to leave behind the worries of their day, week or maybe the circumstances of their lives, and just be able to laugh. We want it to be easy for people to decide to come at the last minute and be able to come more often. That's the reason for the LOYAL LAUGHER'S CLUB.”

Next, SRCC will change up its show themes on a 6-8 week rotation. Themed shows provide a wider variety to audiences, especially those who like to attend or attend more often. To mark Women's History Month, the title for the all-female show starting in March is: “Gone with the Men: Well-behaved women seldom make comedy!” Going forward, watch for themes to be posted on Stevie Ray's and CDT's website.

“Stand-Up Sundays”

Starting in March we will offer STAND-UP SUNDAYS, featuring feature six different comedians, each doing a 15-minute stand-up segment. Added Stevie, “The goal is to support all things comedic, give artists that platform and audiences more variety, and it moves along at a fast pace.” The first scheduled Sunday dates are March 24 and April 21. The eventual plan is to schedule two Sunday stand-up events each month. 

“This Musical Is A Joke”

Since making CDT its permanent home in 2010, troupe members have listened to the cheers and applause the audience gives the musicals on CDT's Main Stage. Pamela Mayne said, “We looked around our own troupe and realized that we have some great singers and musicians of our own, so we decided it was time for us to go Broadway. But we are staying true to our improv roots.” This full-length musical will be based entirely on audience suggestions. The characters, plot, even the songs, will all be created on the spot. Continued Pamela, “We may not replace Fiddler on the Roof or Mamma Mia!, but you will laugh the night away, and might even leave humming a new tune!” Beginning in April; and the dates are: April 4, 11, 18 and 25.

“Laughter is Blind” Comedy for the Blind and Visually Impaired

A new concept for the comedy troupe will be presented in partnership with the State Services for the Blind of Minnesota, and it is unique. Stevie explains, “Stand-up comedy is 95% verbal, and improv comedy is a mix of visual and auditory; it's not something that a blind person can enjoy fully. The comedy crafted for “Laughter is Blind: Comedy for the Blind and Visually Impaired, is 100% auditory so that a blind audience member doesn't have to work so hard to be able to thoroughly enjoy it (and if you are sighted, you will still love this all-verbal comedy show). The idea for this concept came from a program that Stevie has been volunteering with for many years, called Radio Talking Book (RTB), originally developed by State Services for the Blind of Minnesota. RTB is a free news and information service that broadcasts 24-hours a day, seven days a week to listeners across Minnesota and the nation. They broadcast things like daily newspapers, current magazines, and a wide variety of books to appeal to a diverse range of interests. RTB is available through an app on Apple and Android smartphones and tablets and you can also listen through online streaming. Through his work with RTB, Stevie was inspired to create “Laughter is Blind,” and will be offered on Saturday, May 4 at 1pm.

Stevie Ray'S COMEDY CABARET plays every Friday and Saturday evening in the Playhouse at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. Special Sunday Stand-up shows, “This Musical Is A Joke” shows and “Laughter is Blind” Tickets are all just $28 per person. LOYAL LAUGHER'S CLUB are priced separately at $75 per person. Dinner is optional and can be added for just $20 per person, per visit. Groups of 12 or more are eligible to receive special discounts. For specific times, reservations and information, call the CDT box office at 952-934-1525 or visit ChanhassenDT.com 

ABOUT Stevie Ray'S COMEDY CABARET

Stevie Ray's Improv Company is a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts organization, serving the Twin Cities since 1989. Performances celebrate the comedic arts, bringing new talent to the stage and giving audiences the opportunity to enjoy comedy productions not found elsewhere. Training programs teach valuable skills for those seeking personal or professional growth.

ABOUT CHANHASSEN DINNER THEATRES

Celebrating over 55 years, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is the nation's largest professional dinner theatre company. Since 1968 CDT has welcomed nearly 13 million visitors with its unique form of hospitality. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is a fully-professional, producing musical theatre company. With scenic and costume shops on site, all design elements are created and executed by CDT's resident artistic design and technical staff.

The artistic program is led by President and Artistic Director, Michael Brindisi. Brindisi works with co-owners Tamara Kangas-Erickson, VP and Choreographer, and Steven L. Peters, to manage CDT. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres provides inspired entertainment and world-class hospitality to its guests. 




Videos