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LB Hosts Local High School Improv Troupes

“Pace yourselves,” joked emcee and LBCC Events and Production Coordinator Michael Winder, as local high school students hit the stage for an improv showcase.  Winder continued “Look at all this insane talent.”

175 high school students, family members, and community members held a raucous and enthusiastic theater melee for ‘High School Improv Smackdown: The Big One’ on Friday night May 24 at the LBCC Russell Tripp theater.

The first skit was with all four teams: two each from Albany and Corvallis, on stage, about thirty students total.

Winder said, “Cheese!” and the entire stage broke into action, with one girl holding her nose and putting up a hand as though to ward a stinky cheese away from her, and a boy pretending to grate cheese for a microwave dish, checking it for doneness.  

Kenzie Kellar and friend agree to pose after the show. Asked to do a drama pose, Kellar said, “By drama pose, do you mean random?”

Jason Caffarella, who teaches music at LBCC, had his bongo drum at the event.  “It saves wear and tear,” joked Jason, who played an encouraging beat instead of applauding.  His wife Cate Caffarella is a drama instructor at West Albany high school.

“A big part of improv is physicality,” said Cate.  

Members of individual troupes demonstrated this in impromptu skits suggested by Winder and the audience.  In “Superhero,” students became superheroes to help a main character solve a “shortage of cats.” Wet Shoelace Man’s helping tool was, you guessed it, a wet shoelace.  It said “meow” in an effort to call the cats back.

“Reboot” required students to use opera, film noir, and spaghetti western styles to act out a story, then “reboot” it. And this is how we got two students singing on stage about blueberry cheesecake.  Their voices soared, as they repeated the blocking and plot the first two students had invented.

The evening ended with a group extravaganza called “Props.”  Benjamin Sell, South Albany High School theater director and acting teacher, joined Winder on stage to play out a fishing trip using the students as props.

“I need ten fishing poles!” cried out Sell.  

This is the third year of the event, which was started by Sell, Winder and Cate Caffarella.

Story and Photos by Karen Canan

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