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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Marc Warzecha

Marc Warzecha

Today's subject is living his theatre life this holiday season as the director of a show that turns the traditional A Christmas Carol upside down. Marc Warzecha is at the helm of Twist Your Dickens, which is currently playing in the Theatre Lab at Kennedy Center through Dec 31st. This hilarious show is a production of The Second City, Chicago's world famous comedy/improv troupe.

Marc's credits for The Second City include Twist Your Dickens at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles, BarackStars at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and The Art of Satire which is a national tour in collaboration with The Economist Magazine. His War! Now in Its 4th Smash Year! at Second City's Chicago Mainstage garnered Mark Joseph Jefferson nominations for Best Director, Best Revue and Best Ensemble. His work as a satirist has been featured on ABC's Nightline, in Newsweek magazine, and the Washington Post. You may have also seen him as a recent guest on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and NPR's long-running news program, All Things Considered.

I recently saw Twist Your Dickens and I can honestly say that you'll laugh your head off at what Marc and company have done with Charles Dickens' material. Even Mr. Dickens has something to say about how the show proceeds. A director's job is hard enough, but Marc Warzecha has the distinct pleasure of having to stage a show that looks like it's the same every night, but in some sections, it won't be because of the improv and audience interaction elements. This is part of his genius.

Grab a ticket if you can and get over to Kennedy Center to see Marc Warzecha's handiwork in Twist Your Dickens. The Second City is always welcome here in DC and this show is another reason for that.

Who were your comedy/satirist idols growing up and who made the biggest impression on you?

George Carlin was undoubtedly the biggest influence on me. He was brilliant; his satire was relevant and prescient. The same qualities that appealed to me about Carlin's comedy also attracted me to The Second City.

Can you please tell us how you came to work for The Second City?
For a time there was a Second City in downtown Detroit, and I was lucky enough to audition and become a member of the company there as an actor. The Second City Detroit location no longer exists, but its legacy lives on via the work of its alumni like Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Maribeth Monroe (Workaholics), and Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson (Comedy Central's upcoming Detroiters), just to name a few.

L-R Jaime Moyer, John Lescault, Aaron Bliden, and Tia Shearer in the Second City's Twist Your Dickens. Photo by Teresa Castracane.

How do you best describe Twist Your Dickens?

It's A Christmas Carol on steroids - the famous Scrooge tale with a Second City twist. Scrooge, Cratchit, and the Ghosts are all there like you've never seen them before. Plus there are sketches that satirize the holiday season, and plenty of improv and audience interaction.

You have several local actors in the show. When this show is performed do you usually carry the entire performing company, or is this standard?

This is standard.

How much of the show is scripted and how much, if any, is improvised each night?

Without giving too much away there are several sections of the show that are improvised, inspired by live audience suggestions.

Does the show satirize the Dickens material?

While there certainly is some satire of the holidays in Twist Your Dickens, overall it's a fun night out, full of laughs and joy, and a welcome holiday break from the current news cycle.

Of all the company that do comedy/improv that you could be working for, what do you enjoy the most about directing for The Second City?
The fact that at The Second City, the audience helps create our show. Twist Your Dickens is different every night due to audience's improv suggestions. That live interaction with the crowd is truly special.

Special thanks to Kennedy Center publicist Brendan Padgett for his assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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