Improv at Towngate! On Saturday, March 18, the Left of Centre Players return to the Towngate Theatre stage, sharing their talents in a night of improvisational comedy that always entertains the crowds.
The troupe, which is made up of local actors, performers and comedians, will once again perform without a script, using only their imaginations, their adrenaline and the suggestions that come from the audience members.
Improv Spotlight: Mindy and Ryan Sears
Ryan and Mindy Sears are one of three married couples that are part of the Left of Centre Players. They both took some time to answer a series of random, improv-style questions about their involvement in the troupe.
Towngate Theatre: Why did you choose to do improv?
Mindy: Honestly, I do it for myself. As a mother of two cute little boys, who were involved in their own activities, I needed something that made me feel like myself again. Ryan started this a couple of years ago without me at the very beginning. After I went to his first show, I thought I need to do this with him. We’ll have a blast together. I love to make people laugh, and maybe someday I will.
Ryan: I’m not sure why I do it! It’s a love/hate thing. The day of each performance, I say to myself, “Why am I doing this? What the crap was I thinking?” And after I say, “I can’t wait until the next one!”
Towngate Theatre: What is your favorite thing about Improv?
Mindy: I love having a front row seat to watch my friends on stage. I don’t hold back either. They make me laugh the entire time. We have to be quick on our feet on stage but things don’t always go as planned when you’re not planning anything, duh… IMPROV. So, every game is not free from flaws, and it is funny when someone messes up in front of an audience. Too bad it has to happen to me some of the time, but it’s funny when someone messes up, you know it is.
Ryan: Yes! Anything can happen. In a game, you can excel or fall flat on your face. Sometimes you can fall on your face and STILL excel. You can’t plan on anything. In fact, you have to plan not to plan. You do so much not-planning, the word “plan” loses all its meaning.
Mindy: And these guys are my friends. Some of them have been for years. Some of them I met when they were just children and now are all grown up. It’s a pretty special group, and I’m proud to be a part of it. You wouldn’t know it when we are together but our ages range from 20s to 60s. We all act like a bunch of kids. We’re good together. Left of Centre Players, you complete me.
Towngate Theatre: What is it like performing together as spouses?
Ryan: It’s great. Any actor can tell you that there’s a bond that develops between players. Childcare issues aside, the fact that Mindy and I get to share the jitters and thrills and excitement is priceless.
Mindy: I like performing with Ryan. He’s a pretty funny guy. He always makes me laugh. We don’t need to have each other there to have a good time, but I do have fun when he is there. He’s just like one of my other friends. I like it when he does well and if he goofs up in a gigantic way. And Ryan is manly and buff. And he never messes up anything. Ever. (Ryan asked me to add that last part. He’s not dorky at all too. He’s like a cool science guy.)
Towngate Theatre: Now. The most important question. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Mindy: Star Trek.
Ryan: Star Trek all the way! Engage!
Towngate Theatre: What’s your favorite improv game?
Ryan: Whew, tough. Probably Half-Time, since you basically condense a 60-second skit into 7.5 seconds. I love the chaos of the whole thing.
Mindy: It’s hard to decide but maybe Split Scene. In this game there are two different scenarios. Each group takes turns progressing their scene but starting with the last thing the other group said. The last time I did split scene I slapped Vera (Barton-Maxwell) on the butt.
Another one of my favorite games to play is Sit, Stand, Bend because you get to mess with the other players. Just as they look comfortable sitting you can make them stand up. I love that. It’s also a very physical game. I like to be moving on stage. Like I said, I decided to do this improv thing for myself…only.
Towngate Theatre: What’s your favorite thing the other one has done in a performance?
Mindy: Ryan played a really great Napoleon a few shows back. He was killing it. It may have been one of those situations where you had to be there. I also loved the time Evan Oslund (while in a scene where Ryan was selling him fruit) said, “Surprise me.” Now, he knew what Evan meant but Ryan decided to open hand slap Evan across the face. For real guys. Evan said it actually hurt, backstage. Look, we give our all at a performance. Just last week I ripped a hole in the middle of my shirt during a performance.
Ryan: I love Min’s reactions. In the moment, her facial expression reflects a truly sincere response. It’s inherently funny.
Towngate Theatre: Ok. Last question. Bacon or sausage?
Ryan: Bacon. I mean, seriously. I’m not one of those bacon-obsessed people, who drink bacon beer or whatever…but bacon is undeniably delicious!
Mindy: Surprise me.
Tickets for the show Saturday, March 18 are only $5 and on sale now. Purchase in advance at OIonline.com or by calling 304-242-7700. You can buy tickets at the door, too.
Leave the kiddos at home. These shows are for mature audiences only. Strong language is possible.
You can purchase beer and wine at the show.