Venture Improv is a high energy, fully audience-interactive comedy troupe performing monthly at NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. Originally formed by Venture Theatre in 1995, this improv group is celebrating its 18th year delivering lively improvised performances, fast thinking scenes, and laugh after laugh.
Each performance involves actors, the audience, and improvised scenes, games, and stories. The Venture Improv group asks for suggestions from the audience, and based on the audience responses, hilarious, improvised comedy ensues. The giggles start with the audience creative suggestions and then turn into full belly aching laughter as the talented actors bring the scenes to life.
Each performance is $7 and starts at 8:00pm at 2317 Montana Avenue. There are concessions sold at NOVA. The recommended audience are for ages 18+.
The Improv TroupeKevin SchweigertCatherine LanglasChaslee SchweitzerAmber FelkerGustavo BellattoMatthew MeliaMyra NurreTiffany MeliaMichael McCallumTucker Downs…and others from time to time!
Past Troupe Members:
Alan Peters, Andrew Gumm, Aric Weber, Blaine Jensen, Casidee Riley, Chas Llewellyn, Dave Overturf, D.R. Edmonds, Jason Harris, Jim Patterson*, Lissa Johnson, Lydia O’Neil, Dawn Carter, Lysa Fox*, Nick Capetanakis, Roxie LaFeevers, Wendy Kessler, Zak Kreiter, Mace Archer*, Aaron Malek*, Buddy MacKinder, Chad Ferris, Chad Korb, Charlie Beecher, Dave Bovee*, Dave Middleton, Erin Claxton, Donita Beeman, Jared Branden, Jenn Bowman, Julia Barbeau, Kris Angsman, Kyle Trott*, Mary Monaghan, Monica Wyche, Pam Strait, Tina Scariano, Rob Smith, Samantha Dunn, Scott Flecther*, Seth Hanser, Todd Pease, Tracy Mayfield*, Troy Bohrer, Wendy Carlin, Sarah Butts, Amber Barnes, Paul Tuck, Jared Siess, Shad Scott, Colin McRae, Bobbi Kupfner
In 1995, Mel Moser approached me about starting an improv comedy night at Lamplighter Lounge. Remember that den of iniquity from our youth? They offered us a pittance and free drinks. We didn’t care much about the pittance, but a place to hang out with our friends and drink for free after a show was inspiring. We embarked on what we thought would be a 3 month run. 10 years later, Venture Improv has become historic in Montana theatre for being the first show ever to run continuously for over a decade. We’ve had over 40 actors play with the improv over the 10 years. We’ve seen actors like Buddy MacKinder and Jared Brandon take off for Chicago, the heart of improvisational theatre. We’ve seen Donita Beeman step right into an improv troupe in New York with her only training having been with Venture Improv. Three years ago we created a youth troupe called Funky Bunch. They have grown stronger and stronger over the years, since the training possibilities encountered on an improv stage are endless.
And that is what’s important about the improv for both the adults and students. Improv has become “an” end, but it is not “the” end. Improv is an evening of entertainment on its own, but the reason that we started the troupe years ago was to make sure that our skills as actors developed and stayed sharp. An actor who becomes adept at improvisation allows him/herself the liberty to be fully creative in the moment. Improv teaches an actor to listen. Improv at its best is topical, insightful, and entertaining. At its worse, it builds better actors. An actor who improvs cannot lose.
I once had a mentor who said, “The artist works in the creative state of I-Don’t-Know.” The improvisational actor is always in a state of “I-Don’t-Know”. They don’t know where the scene’s going, they don’t know what their fellow actors will say, and they don’t know if the audience will respond. And still they are willing to throw themselves at their work and make a go of it in the most dangerous form of drama ever invented. Never take them for granted.
These actors who often make it look easy are my heroes. Their bravery as performers is unmatched. I have loved inventing and reinventing the improv over the years, and every actor who has contributed deserves a great round of applause. But a special toast to those who worked during the lean years. Those who played week after week at Lamplighter developing our skills with nobody ever coming. Had they quit, there’d be no tradition, there’d be no party tonight…
Let’s see if we can reconvene in another 10 years.
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- Rimrock Opera
- Barber of Seville
- Carmen 2002
- Così fan tutte
- Die Fledermaus
- Don Giovanni
- Hansel and Gretel
- La Boheme 2005
- La Bohème 2010
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- Madama Butterfly 2006
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- Nagel looking forward to life after Rimrock Opera
- One Act Festival 2009
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- The Barber of Seville 2009
- the Crucible
- The Elixir of Love
- The Girl of the Golden West
- The Magic Flute
- The Marriage of Figaro
- The Merry Widow
- The Merry Widow 2010
- Tosca 2002
- Venture Theatre