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

Posts Tagged ‘megawatt’

Tuesday February 11, 2014, 5:51pm - by Magnet Theater

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Magnet Theater is now accepting applications for the 2014 spring season of Megawatt. Please fill out THIS FORM no later than FEBRUARY 18th to apply for an audition slot. Anyone who has completed Magnet Level 6 is eligible to apply, though please note that a completed form does not guarantee an audition slot. Due to the high volume of eligible improvisers and a limited number of slots, priority will be given to students and performers who have finished the class or performed on a Megawatt team within the last year. Confirmations will be sent out by THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20th.

CLICK HERE to apply.

Wednesday November 27, 2013, 10:06am - by Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller

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“It’s amazing we’re even improvising at all.
So many people wouldn’t be able to be doing what we’re doing.
That in itself is exciting. Embrace that bravery.”

- Joanna Simmons,  Story Pirates

 

The above is an improv mantra held dear by Elana Fishbein, one of the original members of Magnet House Team Featherweight. Hopefully you have seen one of their shows. If not, block off an hour on Wednesday and catch this notable Megawatt team.

 

On November 13th, 2013 I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with 6 of the 8 current members to pick their brains about the team, themselves, and how they play together. For all of you who don’t know, Featherweight is the most veteran Megawatt team at the Magnet. They were formed on late August 28th, 2008 by Peter McNerney, who also served as their first coach for almost a full year (they are now coached by Joe Miles). Their original line-up was Jesse Acini (now on All American), Russ Armstrong (now on Chet Watkins), Noel Dinneen, Elana Fishbein, Jess Lane (now out in Los Angeles), Blake Merriman, Jared McGrail (traveling the country doing a webcast), and Justin Moran. Their first form was The Harold and their name came from a scene that happened at their very first practice: Elana Fishbein had brushed her hand against Jess Lane’s breasts to which Elana exclaimed, “Oh! They’re featherlight!” From Featherlight came Featherweight, also pitched by Elana. Since then, Featherweight has gone on to be one of the most celebrated teams of the Magnet – playing for over 5 years on Wednesday nights, traveling to do the Philly and Boston Improv Festivals, performing at colleges, launching 2 pilots, and competing and losing in the very first Inspirado competition (their challenge, titled Farts! Farts! Farts!, required every scene to have a fart).

 

Like every veteran Magnet team, Featherweight since its inception has undergone changes. The line-up that you will see today is almost a totally different set of faces you would have seen a few years ago, or even a couple of years ago. Only 4 of the original members remain. After Russ left, Dave Maulbeck was added and also served as the team’s coach. Featherweight then experienced four more losses including Dave. Willy Appelman was added in late August of 2012, but left shortly after. In April, they welcomed veteran players Frank Bonomo, Matt Shafeek, and Lauren Ashley Smith. Matt and Frank were cast alongside each other on Megawatt team Skosh a few years ago. The two also played with Noel on Oswald prior to Featherweight’s original casting. In addition, Matt and Elana had played together on Flea Flurkus, a 2007 team that performed the Evente. The most recent addition was that of Will Quinn this past August, who had been coached by both Elana and Frank. Collectively, Featherweight has over 50 years of improv experience loaded onto its current roster. Despite the new look and massive transformation (this is the first time in many years that Featherweight is an 8-person troupe), the feel and quality of the team remains the same as it has always been: “The Featherweight I watched is the same team I’m on now. It’s the same energy.” -Lauren Ashley Smith. It’s a testament not only to the casting of the team, but the openness, support, and skill these players bring to the stage of why things have always worked out.

 

Featherweight, who warms up by hitting a ball up in the air with great effort to not let it hit the ground, improvises a free form, meaning they find the form as they go. “It comes off having a feel of a little town where the characters know each other and other characters branch out of that.” – Will Quinn. Something Featherweight prides themselves on is having a great range with their shows. The spectrum they cover not only in their 25 minute set, but week to week, rivals most sets at the theater. When I asked Noel Dinneen what the most important quality an improviser should possess is, he responded: “The will to improvise, meaning the willingness to actually improvise as opposed to be married to a structure or game.” Some shows might end up being slow mono-scenes and the next week everything blows up. Regardless of what their set calls for, each week Featherweight brings their flexibility, vulnerability, generosity of spirit, and “imperviousness to fear of judgment” (Justin Moran) to create their fun and their funny.

 

Frank Bonomo has a strong gift at bringing the humanity to Featherweight’s shows. He lets characters be affected; he knows how each character he plays will react emotionally and is still so versatile in his play. He considers the small human moments.. Also, his object work is insane.

 

Noel Dinneen came to The Magnet to study with Armando. He considers his most influential instructors to be Mick Napier and Del Close. His team celebrates his fearlessness, range, and how he brings zero hesitation to his work. There is nothing Noel can’t yes and. He’s also got a pretty killer attitude.

 

Elana Fishbein came to The Magnet to study with Armando. She considers her most influential instructor to also be Armando Diaz. With a Featherweight set comes Elana’s ability to play a spectacular and  effortless range of strong, intricate, fully-formed characters. She is so specific and grounds the work. Featherweight feels that when Elana is playing, the show is in good hands.

 

Blake Merriman is described as being incredibly emotionally present. He really lets his characters be affected. He is a reliable player and also a great actor and is emotionally present really lets his characters be affected by what is happening.

 

Justin Moran came to The Magnet to study with Armando. He considers his most influential instructor James Eason. His team refers to him as an “information robot” who not only brings incredibly smart scene ideas, perfect lines, and smart appropriate punchlines to his work, but amazing characters you could never imagine be a part of the scene but work every single time.

 

Will Quinn came to The Magnet because of the opportunities the theater would provide. He considers his most influential instructor to be Peter McNerney. Will has a great understanding of game and heightening as well as adding finesse to Featherweight’s sets. When Will plays, his joy as a player shines through. He brings to his characters a level of polish making things very clear and very full.

 

Matt Shafeek came to The Magnet to study with Armando. He considers his most influential instructor to be Michael Delaney. Featherweight describes Matt as a mature, confident, and joyful player. He’s always thoughtful and takes his time when making choices as opposed to exercising “quick lazy play.” He provides context and knows what a piece needs to create a successful scene.

 

Lauren Ashley Smith came to The Magnet because of its welcoming atmosphere, energy, and people. She considers her most influential instructor to be Armando Diaz. Her team pegged her as “a sniper” because of her sharp sense of humour, specific moves, and ability to bring to a scene exactly what is needed. Her mind is constantly exercising on how to heighten, instill more life, and bring things together.

 

Sunday September 29, 2013, 10:01pm - by WillyAppelman

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The Magnet is thrilled to announce our new Musical Megawatt lineup! Come by this Tuesday when all six teams will perform to kick off the new season!

New Team Chunky
Jen Connor
Stephanie Griffith
Kathleen Armenti
Nikita Burdein
Alex Tracy
Tom Dunlap
Ben Furnas

New Team Smooth
Gretchen Poole
Ariana Murphy
Maggie Morris
Justin Torres
Brad Benson
Andrew Cornelius
Steve Whyte

The Jezebelles
Annie Moor
Kiki Mikkelson
Lauren Friedman
Ali Reed
Mallory Schlossberg
Rachel Norman
Liz Lasky

Legend
Roman Pietrs
Lorraine Cink
Leslie Collins
Jordan Hirsch
Olivia Petzy
Jason Scott Quinn
Ren McDermott

Mint Condition
Woody Fu
Sarah Puls
Melissa Gordon
Angela Demanti
Ryan Dunkin
Doug Widick
Chris Simpson

Aquarius
Ross Taylor
Joe Hendel
Michael Murnane
Laura Dlug
Jon Bander
Oscar Montoya
Abby Holland
Mike Kuplic

Thursday August 29, 2013, 1:42pm - by WillyAppelman

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Thank you to everyone who applied and auditioned for Megawatt. We’re honored to announce our fall line up:

New Team PAISLEY
Sam Rogal
Nick Jaramillo
Ali Fisher
Kelly Donahue
Branson Reese
Amanda Xeller
Evan Barden
Brendan Jordan

There will also be additions to The Wrath, Featherweight, Brick, The Music Industry and Chet Watkins

The Wrath
Andrew Yurman Glaser
Michael Kroll
Ross Taylor
Scott Lawrie
Rob Penty
Emily Shapiro
Mike Dwyer
Steven Slate
Alexis Lambright

Featherweight
Justin Moran
Elana Fishbein
Blake Merriman
Noel Dineen
Matt Shafeek
Lauren Ashley Smith
Frank Bonomo
Will Quinn

Brick
Rick Andrews
Julia Hynes
Tim Eberle
Joe Miles
Amie Roe
Jed Terres
Jamaal Sedayao
Caitlin Steitzer

The Music Industry
Kevin Cobbs
Sebastian Conelli
Nick Mykins
Dennis Pacheco
Charles Rogers
Phoebe Tyers
Matt Weir
Hannah Chase

Chet Watkins
Chris Camp
Karsten Cross
Russ Armstrong
Lauren Olson
John Roukis
Justin Peters
Andrew Vuilleumier

Along with returning groups Horses, All American and Call Tokyo.

Monday August 5, 2013, 2:57pm - by WillyAppelman

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Magnet Theater will be holding auditions for the fall season of Megawatt. Auditions will be held Friday, August 23rd with callbacks on Sunday, August 25th. To be eligible, performers need to have completed Magnet Level 6 Team Performance Workshop. Please note that due to the limited number of slots auditions are not guaranteed.

To apply, please follow THIS LINK and fill out the availability form no later than August 15h. Confirmations will be sent out on August 16th.

Tuesday April 30, 2013, 9:55am - by WillyAppelman

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Thank you to everyone who came out for Megawatt auditions. We’re excited to announce our latest teams:

New Team RED
Shacottha Fields
Michael McLarnon
Andy Moskowitz
Teddy Shivers
Adam Twitchell
Christina Dabney
Brian Frange
Matthew Selliti

New Team WHITE
Charles Rogers
Phoebe Tyers
Dennis Pacheco
Nick Mykins
Sebastian Conelli
Maggie Morris
Matt Weir
Kevin Cobbs

New Team BLUE
Rebecca Robles
Don Romaniello
Maddy Mako
Peter Collins
Matt Antonucci
Dennis Zavolock
Jesse Acini
Kristy Wesolowski

There will also be additions to Horses, The Wrath and Featherweight

Horses
Kelly Buttermore
Kim Ferguson
Federico Garduno
George Fernandez
David Etkin
Michael Lutton
Woody Fu
Eli Itzkowitz

The Wrath
Andrew Yurman Glaser
Michael Kroll
Ross Taylor
Scott Lawrie
Rob Penty
Emily Shapiro
Mike Dwyer
Steven Slate

Featherweight
Justin Moran
Elana Fishbein
Blake Merriman
Noel Dineen
Matt Shafeek
Lauren Ashley Smith
Frank Bonomo

These brand new teams debut Wednesday, May 1st at 7pm. Get there early.

Thursday April 4, 2013, 7:51am - by WillyAppelman

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Magnet Theater will be holding auditions for the spring season of Megawatt. Auditions will be held Saturday, April 27th, with callbacks on Sunday, April 28th. To be eligible for the audition, performers need to have completed Magnet Level 6 Team Performance no earlier than January 2011, or to have performed on a Megawatt team within the last year. Please note that due to the limited number of slots auditions are not guaranteed.

To apply, please follow the link and fill out the availability form no later than April 19th.

MEGAWATT AUDITION SIGN UP

Tuesday November 6, 2012, 12:25pm - by WillyAppelman
Tuesday, November 6th, Musical Megawatt is going to be FREE if you bring one of these items:  blankets, candles, flashlights, batteries, canned non-perishable foods and the following toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes and ziplock bags.  Sarah Puls (Mint Condition) is organizing this with the Red Hook Initiative (http://rhicenter.org/tag/hurricane-relief/).  There will be a drop off place in the lobby.  If you can’t make it tonight, The Magnet will be holding more Hurricane fundraisers in the near future, stay tuned!
Oh yea- GO VOTE!
Tuesday July 31, 2012, 3:18pm - by WillyAppelman

Magnet Theater will be holding auditions for the September season of Megawatt. Auditions will be held Friday 8/17 and Saturday 8/18. Callbacks will be held the following week. To be eligible for the audition, performers need to have completed Magnet Level 6 Team Performance no earlier than January 2011, or to have performed on a Megawatt team within the last year. Please note that due to the limited number of slots auditions are not guaranteed.

To apply, please follow the link and fill out the availability form no later than August 10th.  MEGAWATT FORM!

Wednesday June 6, 2012, 10:52pm - by WillyAppelman

Poster by Carly Monardo

Jazz Freddy is the fifth installment of The Director Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month, Charlie Whitcroft directs a form named after the Chicago group that made it famous. Kevin Cragg, Tony Mui, Gretchen Poole, Jamie Rivera, Sandra Struthers, Teddy Shivers, Mike Ferreira and Kristy Wesolowski take the stage under Whitcroft’s mighty direction. We spoke with Charlie about his choice to present the form.

What is Jazz Freddy?

Structurally, Jazz Freddy is a 4 scene tag-out piece that starts in the present (whatever that means), then tags to the past, tags to the past again, then tags to the future. Simple though it is, it can only be performed by a stellar cast. We get to meet a character, see a bit of her developmentally significant life moments, then see how things turn out for her. Then there’s a further exploration of the other characters we’ve met, and the world they live in. Jazz Freddy is named after the group that performed it first in Chicago in 1992. The first cast included Jimmy Carrane, Rachel Dratch, Dave Koechner, Noah Gregoropoulos, Miriam Tolan, Kevin Dorff, Brian Stack, Meredith Zinner, and others. I’ve heard that it was the first long form show to use tag-outs. I don’t know if that’s true, and I haven’t been able to find anyone who was even alive in 1992 to confirm or deny.

Why did you choose this form?

Two things that I love about the Jazz Freddy – it’s not too complicated, and it’s a lot of fun. The Boss performed Jazz Freddy for a long time as part of Megawatt. We added a lot of our own touches to it, but the simple structure was there. I’m sure there are other groups that have performed the structure since the original cast, but I don’t know of too many in New York. And I don’t appreciate or respect the anti-Jazz Freddy regulations that the Mayor is trying to put in place. Read the news. These are important issues.

What is the future of improv?

I don’t know… I hope it stays out of the drug business. Liquor and gambling have been fine. I’d like to see it go completely legit, maybe clean up some of the money in real estate or something like that.

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Jazz Freddy takes the stage Thursdays at 10pm in June! Check out the opening night, Thursday 6/7 at 10pm- followed by an after party at Smithfield (28th btw. 7th & 8th). Be sure to catch the show for the password for drink specials!