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

Posts Tagged ‘musical theater’

Wednesday October 7, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

TJ Mannix Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Musical improviser, gifted actor, and flat-out handsome man, T.J. MANNIX stops by the podcast to talk about pursuing his dreams in NYC, the craft of acting, and the upcoming New York Musical Improv Festival [NYMIF]. This is our 60th episode and we’re excited to share it with one of Magnet’s beloved instructors and long-time performers. T.J and host, Louis Kornfeld, discuss T.J.’s wide range of experience as an entertainer, everything from DJing for college radio to getting the right take on Law & Order, and of course, Louis opines on NYC’s romantic appeal. Give it a listen, kiddos!

Hear about T.J.’s time spent as a middle-of-the-night college radio DJ and about how Louis didn’t start listening to music until college. Find out what Louis’ first two cassette tapes were and what songs kept T.J. connected to English while studying abroad in Germany. Plus, Louis talks about his years in “local local broadcasting” on Staten Island.

T.J. moved to NYC in 1997 from North Carolina, where he had lived for a few years. He was working for Blockbuster Video and acting on the side, but was finally convinced by visiting actors from New York to give his dream a shot. He subsequently moved to NYC and got a job at the Jekyll & Hyde Club, which he explains was a very different place when he worked there. He talks all about all the fun the staff had and what it was like having it as his first gig in New York. Louis gives his thoughts on surveys, which we know you want to hear.

It’s been about 10 or 11 years now that T.J. has been a performer without a “day job,” so Louis wants to know, “What is it like to be a working actor?” Amongst the advice T.J. bestows, he says you’ve got to “9-to-5 it” because you’re the CEO of your own company. He gets into the life of a working actor and he and Louis end up disucussing NYC neighborhood culture. Next, Louis wants to know, “What’s the strangest job you’ve had in recent memory?” You’ll get to hear all about that, but [spoiler alert] it wasn’t playing Santa Claus at Radio City Music Hall, but he talks about that fun experience as well, even giving away some Rockettes stage secrets.

Without a doubt, T.J. loves the process of acting. He talks about learning on your feet as an actor and tells of his experience working on Law & Order: SVU. He embraces and cherishes the challenge of just about any acting job and recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses in different kinds of actor training. He and Louis talk about small moments on stage and dealing with auditions. Plus, T.J. gives a great tip for playing villains.

Finally, the episode concludes with a discussion of the upcoming 7th Annual NYMIF, Oct 15-18 at Magnet Theater. Working with co-producers Robin Rothman and Michael Lutton, the festival is in its 7th year and has 215 performers coming to the stage. T.J. talks about what the festival has meant to the musical improv community and he shouts out some returning favorites that he’s looking forward to seeing!

Wednesday September 30, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Alan Fessenden Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Step right up and listen to Episode #59 of our show with veteran performer, beloved instructor, and resident clown, ALAN FESSENDEN. Alan joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about clowning, theater, nervousness, and of course, a deep dive into improv philosophy. It’s always great to hear two seasoned performers discuss the ins-and-outs of improvising and this episode is no exception!

Louis begins the interview by asking about Alan’s background in clowning. Though he says that blackmail got him to take his first clown class, Alan soon found himself very interested in the process of finding one’s own clown and how performers can magnify certain characteristics of themselves for use in clowning. Louis asks him to describe what a  clown show might look like and we get to hear Alan’s clown Bartholomew say “vagina” several times. Clowning has helped Alan open up a particular path of communication within himself that informs all performance he now does.

Getting into his background before improv and comedy work, Alan tells us of going to school for theater and trying to forget that he once did musical theater. He’s come around to appreciate the latter at this point in life, which causes Louis to opine that dismissing any type of genre or show isn’t any good for us. These vets talk about the arc of doing your first shows, filled with excitement, to the hard work of getting good, and then becoming an expert. Despite his experience, Louis like to always feel a little bit lost and confused. Similarly, Alan likes the first time he runs an exercise with a class or team, because he’s exploring it with them, rather than simply handing something off to a group.

Hear Louis and Alan talk about nervousness and fear before and during shows!

Louis gets to talking about how Alan improvises and engages with the audience, particularly within Hello Laser. Describing his own development, Alan feels like he had a great freedom of play for a while, then became complacent, and now he fears losing it. They debate relaxation versus putting forth effort in improv and Louis shares with us that he feels tight if he finds his body going for laughs. There’s a nice bit about exploring and being playful even within scenes where you know where you’re trying to get to and Alan talks about eating cake.

Plus, Alan shares great enthusiasm for Louis’ thoughts on “Yes, And” and his habit of playing shows with a secret. They talk about experiencing life and moments, and Alan worries that maybe he doesn’t teach comedy, just moments. While it’s good to know that something is funny, he wants to know, can it be real? They also talk a lot about finding truth and being challenged, which is something that theater is perhaps more readily suited to do than improv.

Finally, Louis and Alan touch on the ability to laugh at who we are and the difficulty of being good people. How can you be a part of the problem even when you’re trying to fix it?

Wednesday March 18, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Jon Bander Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

On this episode of the podcast we are joined by Jon Bander, a seasoned performer with Premiere: The Improvised Musical (Magnet), Aquarius (Magnet), Dagger (The PIT), and Characters Welcome (UCB). Host Louis Kornfeld jumps right into a discussion on musical improv with Jon, talking about Aquarius’ signature form, The Malkovich. They revisit Jon’s first-hand account of the development of musical improv in NYC and discuss how it differs from traditional long-form improv. He also recounts for us how he went from hating musical improv and character comedy to performing them almost exclusively and loving it. We hear about the separation between the subdued, real-life Jon and the high-spirited, on stage Bander. Plus! Louis and Jon discuss mean comedy, the roles the audience plays in improv, and the show Characters Welcome.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #36 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday January 7, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Lee Overtree Podcast magnetituneslogo-PODCASTsmall

Lee Overtree, Artist Director of Story Pirates and writer/director of FOUND The Musical, sits down with our own Louis Kornfeld for a discussion on effective education, how children are amazing writers, and his experience in adapting unconventional source material for the stage. Story Pirates is a nationally respected education and media organization founded in 2003 to celebrate the words and ideas of young people and Lee has been there from the very beginning. He and Louis discuss improv in the classroom and on the stage and Lee asserts that desire drives learning. He also shares how the Story Pirates get kids to have fun with expository writing and talks about the Story Pirates Podcast. True to his Story Pirates roots, Lee grants Louis “permission to get weird” in this episode and it concludes with a lively talk about FOUND The Musical, a new show based on Found Magazine, and how sometimes the best direction to take a project is the most obvious.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #26 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Tuesday December 2, 2014, 6:06pm - by Magnet Theater


The multi-talented sketch writer/performer, improviser, and head of Musical Megawatt, Michael Lutton, sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to discuss what makes for good musical improv and how it can benefit “regular” improv. He talks about the advantages of pushing boundaries when no one is looking and provides advice for improvisers looking to learn musical improv outside of NYC. This one is all about selling it in the moment.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #23 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Tuesday November 25, 2014, 4:14pm - by Magnet Theater

blank image for podcast magnetituneslogo-PODCASTmedium

Louis Kornfeld gets up on his soapbox along with Michael Girts and Mike Descoteaux to preach the virtues of bringing musical improv to the big stage. Blank! The Musical is a big budget improvised musical playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages in NYC. Louis talks with both Mikes about the hard work and planning that goes into producing such an incredible show, and how framing the performance and accepting the audience as an integral part of the show help to propel on-the-spot theater to new heights.

NYT Review: Click here; Broadway World Review: Click here; The Source Review: Click here.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #22 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday August 25, 2010, 12:22pm - by admin

Pope! The Musical ran at the Magnet Theater throughout the past year and was accepted as a New York International Fringe Festival pick.  After a few performances the reviews have been extremely positive!

“It’s wacky. It’s a family affair. And it’s proof that the musical is not dead.” – The Wall Street Journal

With the help of a very game cast and a great sense of playfulness, Pope! wins the hearts of the audience through its commitment to the comedy and the clear enthusiasm of the participants” – NYTheatre.com

“Festival Highlight” – The New Yorker

Holy Moly! Justin Moran (Book & Lyrics) and Christopher Pappas (Music) have written a terrific and thoroughly entertaining soft rock score for Pope!” – Talk Entertainment

Congrats to the whole Pope! cast and Justin Moran (Author book/lyrics) and Christopher Pappas (Author Music).  

You can still see the show at the FRINGE today at Lucille Lortel Theatre (3:15PM) and on Saturday August 28th at 5:15pm!