Improv Spotlight: Jennifer Kellner-Muscar & Mario Muscar

Improv at Towngate!

On Saturday, November 18 at 8pm., 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: Jennifer Kellner-Muscar and Mario Muscar

Jennifer Kellner-Muscar and Mario Muscar 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?

Jennifer: I’d always wanted to take an improv class at Towngate. I knew Tim Thompson had worked with an improv company in Minneapolis, and I had kind of been harassing him for years to teach some adult classes but at the time he was really focused on youth programming for the theater. Once the Crazy 8s (who are fantastic, BTW. GO SEE THEM) high school troupe had been formed, I just begged. Improv works better for my schedule than scripted performance at this point in my life. With two youngish kids at home, 6 weeks of rehearsal and performances for play is overwhelming, but weekly improv rehearsals are manageable.

Mario: I always liked acting and always enjoyed doing comedic roles. In a different life, I’m sure I would have worked my way up to auditioning for Saturday Night Live, and then most assuredly been rejected. In the mid-2000s, Jennifer and I started doing improv with a group of friends (some of who are part of the Left of Centre Players as well). That group stopped meeting, but when Jenn and I heard that Towngate wanted to do something, we were excited to be a part of it.

Towngate Theatre: What is your favorite thing about Improv?

Jennifer: I love the idea of improv – that it all has to come out of your brain and that you work collaboratively with your fellow actors. I love that there is structure and some loose rules, but that ultimately anything goes as long as you support your cast-mates choices and progress the scene. It is a great break from my regular routine – it feels like playtime.

Mario: There are many great things about improv. I like the way it spills over into my life and makes me a better person. But I have to say that my favorite thing about improv is that moment when inspiration hits you just right and you react with a perfect reaction or a great line – and the audience responds in approval.

Towngate Theatre: What is it like performing together as spouses?

Mario: Performing with Jennifer is great. First and foremost, Jennifer and I have always been a great team. It makes improv great, and it makes our marriage great. There are few people on this planet who can actually make me genuinely laugh out loud. And Jennifer is one of them.

Jennifer: I am always happy to be in a scene with Mario because #1 I think he’s really good and #2 because it is easier to anticipate where he is going to take a scene since I know him so well. Trust is really important with improv so working with your spouse is actually really great. As long as you trust your spouse. Which I do. Almost all of the time.

Towngate Theatre: Now. The most important question. Marvel or DC?

Mario: Marvel all the way. I grew up reading Marvel comics and watching Spider-Man cartoons. DC is great, but Marvel is always my first and my greatest.

Jennifer: Marvel. Even though they don’t seem to have great female characters (at least female characters who get their own movies). Marvel’s characters seem more human and flawed and realistic.

Towngate Theatre: What’s your favorite improv game?

Jennifer: I actually really love “Sit, Stand, Bend.” In that game there are three actors – and at any point in the scene one has to be sitting, one has to be standing and one has to be bending. As soon as someone changes positions the other two have to adjust. It can get really fast-paced and is very physical. As an actor, I have more difficulty with figuring out the physicality of the character I am playing than I do the emotional motivation or the way the person should speak, so I think “Sit, Stand, Bend” teaches me a lot about just going for it with physical comedy.

Mario: I really enjoy “Shoulda Said.” The idea of coming up with multiple answers and statements over and over again is challenging and can make for some really funny moments.

Towngate Theatre: What’s your favorite thing the other one has done in a performance?

Mario: Jennifer is constantly making me smile at improv. She’s really good at playing straight with a level of absurdity under it. She had a really fabulous moment once when she was doing a game called “Translation.” I was in the scene with her and two other players. The other players were speaking in gibberish, and Jennifer and I acted as the translators for them to the audience. Jennifer made some choices of translations that so perfectly worked with the other two players that I stopped just to enjoy it. I turned into an audience member and forgot that I was in the scene.

Jennifer: In one scene, Mindy Sears was pretending to talk on a phone. She was holding it like an old timey phone receiver. Mario grabbed the pretend phone out of her hand and scolded her saying “That’s not how you hold a phone now, this is how you hold a phone.” Hysterical.

Towngate Theatre: Ok. Last question. Pancakes, waffles, French Toast or crepes?

Jennifer: Ummmmmm Crepe?

Mario: Crepes! Viva la France!


Tickets for the show Saturday, November 18 are only $5 and on sale now. Purchase in advance at 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.