If you haven't stopped into The Torch Theatre on Central Avenue in Phoenix for an improv show, you're missing out.
The group, headed up by board members Bill Binder, Jose Gonzalez, Jacque Arend, Sam Haldiman, Nina Miller, Mack Duncan, Shane Shannon, and Tommy Schaeffer , is consistently reinventing itself in front of a live audience -- without a script.
The group was a finalist in our Big Brain Awards last year, and this year, two of Torch's house troupes Galapagos and Umlautilde will be performing at the mecca of improv theatre -- The Chicago Improv Festival.
Umlautilde is the combined force of Bob Fischer and Jose Gonzales, who have performed together since 2009. And Galapagos includes Bill Binder, Jose Gonzalez, Jon Jahrmarkt, Mark Jordan, and Shane Shannon, who have performed together for the last 10 years in Phoenix as well as at Improvaganza/the Honolulu Improv Festival, Austin's Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, and UCB Theatre's Del Close Marathon in New York.
Gonzales writes that the troupes are excited -- the Chicago Improv Festival is in its 16th year and is the largest, longest-running, and most prestigious improv festival in the world. The festival runs April 1 through 7 and will include performances by more than 150 teams in over 90 shows on 20 stages.
According to Gonzales, Umlautilde will be performing at The Playground (3209 North Halsted Street in Chicago) on Friday, April 5 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, April 6 at 9 p.m.. Galapagos will be performing at The Playground on Friday, April 5 at 11:59 p.m. and Saturday, April 6 at 11:59 p.m..
You can catch the troupes before they jet off at The Torche Theatre. Galapagos will perform in the Phoenix Improv March Madness Playoff Tournament this Friday, March 22 at 8:30 p.m.. Tickets are $10.
And in April, both troupes will participate in the Phoenix Improv Festival at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. The schedule and ticket info is available on the Phoenix Improv Festival website.