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Magnet Theater Blog: News and Ideas about Comedy, Improv Shows & Classes in NYC

Thursday July 18, 2013, 12:24pm - by Charlie Whitcroft

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If you’ve never seen Junior Varsity, Hello Laser, or The Boss perform at the Magnet Theater, I’m guessing you’ve had some longstanding obligation on Thursday nights for the last several years.

They’re the Magnet Theater’s longest standing, longest standing teams – veterans who’ve been performing high quality improv together for almost seven years. That’s a length of time most people can’t even wrap their heads around in this ever-more present-focused world of ours.

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Now they’re loading themselves up into chambers randomly (not really randomly… there’s a set schedule) for a weekly round of Russian Roulette known as The Revolver. Each week you’ll see two of these teams perform, each in their own unique and seasoned styles.

Come out and see them, every Thursday Night at 8pm.

Then talk to them afterwards. Being around so long, they have stories to tell.

Tuesday July 16, 2013, 2:23pm - by WillyAppelman

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Congrats to Alexis Lambright (Bloomer) and Mallory Schlossberg (The Jezebelles) on having their one woman shows accepted into the 2013 NYC Fringe Festival! We’re very proud of both shows, which have been performed and developed on The Magnet stage! Mallory’s, “Molly Marjorie Rosenblatt Needs A Man (and other stuff)” and Alexis’s, “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity”, will be playing in August in theaters around NYC. Be sure to check both of these shows out! Show Info Here!

Monday June 10, 2013, 1:02pm - by WillyAppelman

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The Magnet Theater is proud to announce the newest members of Magnet Sketch Teams! Thank you to everyone who applied! Sketch teams perform every Sunday at 9 pm.

FAT KIDS
David Sewell
Chet Siegel
Becca Schall
Andrew Mills
Robert Ramsey
John Kitsis
Sebastian Conelli
Billy Bob Thompson
Megan Meadows

DISPACHO
Ruby Marez
Alex Marino
Todd Shaeffer
Adam Twitchell
Ingrid Ostby
Robert Kern
Steph Garcia
Pat May
Emily Johnson
Marcus Brunt

RISKY BOTTOM
Janie Stolar
Gretchen Poole
Jana Schmieding
Matt Antonucci
Lauren Olson
Matt Wassung
Rob Webber
Joe Lepore
Kevin Lalka

JACKTOWN
Shalini Tripathi
Alan Fessenden
Joe Miles
Sean Taylor
Kelly Warne
Gwen Mesco
James O’Connell
Kate Emswiler
Darrel Haynes
Matt Alston

Thursday June 6, 2013, 12:41pm - by WillyAppelman

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Every Thursday in June, we’ve got a brand new Magnet Video! These are videos shot from live shows at The Magnet Theater. Enjoy this weeks scene from Chet Siegel(The Boss) and Megan Gray(Junior Varsity), about siblings having a fight over “magazines”. Watch The Video HERE! Stay Tuned for more!

Friday May 24, 2013, 4:56pm - by WillyAppelman

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Due to the Memorial Day Holiday, there will be limited classes on Saturday, May 25th and NO classes on Sunday, May 26th and Monday, May 27th, the Training Center will be closed. There will also be NO SHOWS on Sunday, May 26th. Please check with your teacher or the school director (schooldirector@magnettheater.com) if you have any questions.

Thursday May 23, 2013, 3:20pm - by WillyAppelman

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The Circuit is made up of improv ensembles consisting of veteran Magnet performers and students. Performances are every Friday night at 10pm at The Magnet Studio Theater. Congratulations to the following teams!

TEAM DOROTHY
Bob Kern
Emily Schorr Lesnick
Evelyn Peppas
Tim Lewis
Henry Bergstein
Nicole Lee
Tamar Gressel
Alex Ford
COACH – Teddy Shivers

TEAM ROSE
Jess Wyant
Nolan Constantino
Ari Miller
Bevin Campbell
Carolyn Bucas
Erica Wiederlight
Adam Pasulka
Sulaimon Beg
COACH – Michael McLarnon

TEAM BLANCHE
Chris Simpson
Joe Lepore
Katy Berry
Kerry Kastin
Jon Demuth
Daniel Atwood
Stephanie Leke
Chris Hastings
COACH – Kim Ferguson

TEAM SOPHIA
Jenn Stone
Kate Weinberg
Scott Morwitz
Melissa Caminneci
Sacha Nandal
Philipp Goedicke
Marc Davila
COACH – Laura Dlug

Friday May 17, 2013, 2:27pm - by WillyAppelman

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Jaime Hazan has been performing at The Magnet Theater for over 4 years. He works with Frank Spitznagel (Frankie Keys) and accompanies most of the Musical Mixers you attend. Jaime performs weekly at The Musical Mixer and Musical Megawatt. Jaime recently wrote a song for the victims of The Boston Marathon Bombings that can he downloaded here, BOSTON STRONG. We talked with Jaime about his music, The Magnet and what his number one wish is.

Question: How did you get started as a musician?

I started playing the piano between 4 and 5 years old. I had always
played by ear and was able to improvise just about any song I heard.
Someone would play a song on a vinyl record, and I’d be able to play
it back. I still don’t really understand how that works!

Question: When did you start accompanying musical improv?

I hate the word “Accompanist” when it comes to musical improv, since
it implies a lateral involvement to the on-stage actors. I prefer to
use the word collaborator since musicians and actors must work in
concert to find their grail and perform excellent improv.

I started studying musical improv Jan 2009 and accompanying later that
year after recognizing that my place was behind the keys. Traditional
musicians who take the time to study many years of theory, harmony and
the so-called “proper methods” of learning don’t typically have the
grasp of “making it up on-the-spot”. Those that do are simply amazing
humans (Frankie Keys). However making up songs was the one thing I
was best at – so I consider myself lucky to have found a theatrical
environment that rewards individuality and the ability to improvise
songs. A traditional theater would not take to this style kindly!

In particular, I enjoy teaching and rehearsing song structure to
performers since it is this type of songwriting that in my opinion
makes musical improv so fantastic. There is no bigger thrill than
nailing both a scene and structure combined – it makes for amazing
entertainment and tons of fun. Especially fun, watching students go
through the process of learning, say a tag-line song and finally
feeling comfortable performing within that structure – not to exclude
the many other structures – they all have their place in the game.

Questions: Can you talk about your song Boston Strong?

I am very proud of Boston Strong and feel somewhat badly about a
terrorist attack being the impetus of a song. My co-writer David
Fagin approached me about writing a song about the attacks, and
being a former 9-11 first responder, I fully understand what it’s like
to experience this frightening environment and was thrilled to
collaborate. So going into the studio and laying down the tracks and
finding the right combination of music to fit words was a cathartic
experience since the emotions surrounding 9-11 surface just about any
time there is terrorist activity. When we heard from police officers
from Watertown and Governor Patrick Duval, we knew many of the victims
were moved by the music – and that was simply our goal. But we soon
realized that selling downloads could raise significant money, so a
deal was set-up for distribution by Ingrooves/Fontana and can be heard
in Nordstroms as well as over 6000 Starbucks in the USA and Canada as
well as downloaded as a single on itunes, spotify, or your favorite
digital music aggregator. The song has gotten lots’ of press and was
featured at a NY Mets game – which was very exciting. All of the
digital downloads go to the onefundboston.org. Here’s the itunes link
to check out: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/boston-strong-single/id642637688

As you will be able to see, it has gained acclaim on itunes. It is
expected to be played at the LiveNation.com benefit concert on May 30
over the system – a concert that will be featuring some of America’s
most successful musicians including Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffet, Carole
King & New Kids on the Block. It would be a thrill if we were invited
to perform live, but that is still to be determined.

Question: If you had one wish Jaime, what would it be?

The other night, I was listening to a lecture about happiness. What
makes someone happy? And the lecturer explained how it is not money –
two people can be going to work, one taking a bus to serve at a blue
collar job, and another in a limo, as a CEO. The key to happiness is
living and playing a role within a close knit community. This,
describes Magnet Theater – an organization I’m very proud to serve.
Despite extreme poverty sucking, I wish for a lifetime of health and
happiness.

Jaime Hazan can be seen performing weekly at The Musical Mixer and Musical Megawatt. If you could find it in your heart to spare $1.29, you’ll be helping people who are in serious need. Download BOSTON STRONG!

Thursday May 16, 2013, 11:31am - by WillyAppelman

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Tomorrow (FRIDAY, MAY 17th) is the last day to submit applications for the next round of MAGNET SKETCH TEAMS.

Each sketch team will write and perform a show approximately every 3 weeks. This run of shows begins in June and ends in September. Shows will take place Sunday nights at 9 pm. Completion of or current enrollment in Sketch Writing Level 2 is required to apply.

HOW TO APPLY TO BE ON A MAGNET SKETCH TEAM:
Send an email with the subject line, “MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION” and your name to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com. Include your improv/sketch experience and at least 2 writing samples as attachments (please limit total to 10 – 12 pages).

Friday May 10, 2013, 2:00am - by WillyAppelman

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Shacottha Fields is a bartender and performer at The Magnet Theater. Her one woman show, 1 Deep, was a Critics’ Pick in Time Out Chicago. Shacottha performs weekly with her newly minted Megawatt Team, Call Tokyo and monthly with the all-female improv group, We Might Just Kiss. If you don’t know and love Shacottha yet, read on…

*Questions: So Shacottha, what’s your story?

I’m from Nacogdoches, Texas. A small place where everybody knows everybody, I graduated with 18 other people. I went to college for Business and right after I graduated I moved to New York City to pursue acting. I realize that my personality was not fit for a 9 to 5. I figured utilizing my gifts of listening and making people laugh was a better way for me to live.

*Question: When you got to New York, how did you get started?

I was taking an acting class from an agent that would come to class and yell at us, “If you want to be an actor, you have to take improv!” So I did. I have taken classes at The People’s Improv Theater and Upright Citizens Brigade. I started taking classes at The Magnet Theater two years ago and I’m so happy I did. I loved the foundation of improv that I received, more so the wide variety of improv forms that I learned as well. It was like a whole world of improv that I never knew. Last year, I saw Ben Jones do his one person improv show “Just Ben.” I was so inspired. The experience I had at that show was so amazing I just felt like I wanted to create something of my own to share with the world. Unsure of everything, I started coaching with Rick Andrews. Together we developed my own form for my one woman improv show. Shortly after, I gave birth to my own improv baby, 1 Deep, now traveling to different festivals. I am also proud to say that I am a part of a new house team at The Magnet Theater, “Call Tokyo”.

*Question: If you could have one super power, what would it be?

My super power would be to fly. I’ve always felt birds had the best view of the world and all its beauty. I would fly all over the world and see all the different people, the way they live, the ocean and terrain. I would observe the change in its texture, tone and material. I would just fly all over to experience every nook and cranny of the world.

Fly with Ms. Fields and Call Tokyo every Wednesday at Megawatt!

Sunday May 5, 2013, 12:27pm - by WillyAppelman

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“The Butterfly Effect” is the newest installment of The Director’s Series, a 5-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month Megan Gray (Magnet Artistic Director, Junior Varsity) and Alan Fessenden (The Weave, Hello Laser) team up to bring you The Butterfly Effect. We sat down with them, via email, and asked them why they chose to direct this form.

MAGNET BLOG: What is The Butterfly Effect? Why are you directing it?

MEGAN: “The Butterfly Effect” is an improv long form that borrows from Close Quarters (which was developed in Chicago by Director Noah Gregoropoulos at Second City) and Tracers (which was developed by Kevin Mullaney at the UCB in NY). Based on the suggestion of a location and a time of day, the cast creates a series of scenes that are all happening at the same time. It’s almost like a combination of Monoscene Eventes.
This form requires a great attention to detail and a pretty sharp memory. I first saw it performed at a Del Close Marathon in 2004 and was blown away. The entire piece took place in a mansion with all these secret passageways. The cast remembered every piece of information and kept it really fun. Since then, it’s been a form I’ve been wanting to develop for a Director Series. I was talking to Alan Fessenden about it and he mentioned that he also wanted to work with Tracers. So we decided to direct it together.

ALAN: When I first saw Tracers at the UCB years ago, it was amazing and looked semi impossible, so I wanted to try and recreate that impossible feeling. Additionally, I was working with Matt Antonucci and a a few others in this style and I thought, we need to need to put this up, and I want to do it soon. We were having so much fun.

MAGNET BLOG: What is your favorite type of improv?

MEGAN: I like to watch improv that has a lightness to it. The performers are having fun, making interesting choices and connecting with each other. This may sound stupid, but I love to watch improv that looks improvised — not like the performers are just saying things they’ve been writing in their heads on the backline. I want to be surprised by improvisers making discoveries in the moment.

ALAN: I like it fast, I like it slow, I guess it depends on my mood. But really I like improv where people are really making discoveries in the moment, so the audience, the actor and maybe even the characters are all figuring something out together.

MAGNET BLOG: What is the future of improv?

ALAN: Structured plays with stock characters where all the dialogue is improvised, only now it will take place in a virtual reality and the actors will be able to digitally enhance the world as they create it. Probably.

MEGAN: Thunderdome.

The Butterfly Effect plays every Thursday in May at 9pm.