Theatre never fails to surprise me. I won tickets to see The Proverbial Loons perform at the Castillo Theatre last year, and I have to admit that I was not expecting much. In fact, with a title like The Proverbial Loons, I was prepared to see something overly goofy and targeted to family audiences.
They are an improvisational musical comedy group. With performances appropriate for all ages, they are unique in that each show differs from the last in every aspect (from plot and dialogue, to music). How?
Upon finding our seats, the performers opened the show by introducing the cast and the accompanist, and asking for volunteers. Two audience members were selected, at random, and invited on stage to talk with the actors. The brave volunteers were asked basic questions about their lives, such as their names, jobs, and personal interests. Amazingly, after a mere five minutes of interviewing, the volunteers were asked to return to their seats while The Proverbial Loons put together a full length, improvised musical about the volunteers' lives.
The particular musical that I saw was dubbed Colbie and Courtney the Musical. Colbie was a shy young man with an impressive tattoo sleeve and a hoard of hidden talents ranging from sculpting to rock climbing. To top it off, he’s a member of the United States National Guard. Courtney was a feisty dance teacher who recently left a highly sought after teaching position at a top dance school in North Carolina to come to New York City with no plans, money, or job.
Equipped with the limited information they gathered from the two volunteers, the actors managed to deliver a show that had the entire venue rolling with laughter. It is remarkable the way the performers worked so effortlessly and efficiently. They were clearly very comfortable working with one another, and that trust translated well onto the stage. The actors and the accompanist worked very fluidly together. Whenever the accompanist sensed an opportunity for a musical number, he would go with his instinct and the actors would follow his lead. Similarly, whenever an actor started to sing, the pianist would quickly have to join in. It all fit into place as seamlessly as if it had been rehearsed.
The Proverbial Loons are especially impressive due to their sheer inventiveness. Everything about Colbie and Courtney the Musical was made up on the spot and I found myself in awe of their quick thinking. They simply let go and had fun with it, tackling topics such as finding love and making a mark on the world, and presenting them in a refreshing, comedic light. They created a hilarious tribute to the two volunteers’ lives, where the audience couldn't help but be engaged.
It was all significantly more authentic due to the fact that the topics of the show were borrowed straight from the crowd, and we were all witnesses to it.