Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Hometown: Improv Group Features Residents, Performs in Williamsburg

SIKJim Gandolfo and the members of Serious Improv Kompany are on a mission to make the people of Williamsburg laugh.

Presenting improvisational theater performances — like those on the television program “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” — the troupe is expanding its offerings to audiences in the Historic Triangle.

Gandolfo, the director, has a long history with improv. He ran a similar group that toured nationally while he was based in Eerie, Pa. After making the move to this area to serve as director of performing arts for Hampton Roads Academy, he wanted to create a local company.

“It was just in my bones. I wanted to start performing again,” Gandolfo said.

He held auditions then debuted SIK two years ago in Newport News. The eight members — four of whom live in Williamsburg — have been performing down the Peninsula until this spring when they opened at the Williamsburg Players playhouse on Hubbard Lane.

The venue was not new for a few of the company, who also perform regularly in the Williamsburg Player’s community theater productions or serve on their board. All are working toward the mission of keeping live theater alive and well, Gandolfo said.

He said their two shows in February and March in Williamsburg have been well-attended, and serve to strengthen the partnership between the two organizations. Half of the proceeds from each show go back to the Williamsburg Players.

While performing in the area has brought some new audience members, Gandolfo would like to see SIK develop a following. Because the shows are based on suggestions from the audience and created on the spot, there is always something new for guests to experience and enjoy.

That is not to say the troupe does not spend time honing their skills. They rehearse once a week under Gandolfo’s direction and practice language and phonetic sounds for characters, rhyming ability, impersonations, television knowledge, songs and vocabulary.

“What would a Russian tour guide in the middle of Tokyo talk about?” Gandolfo asks. Through research and drilled techniques, his team should be able to answer on the fly — and with comedy.

“Any artist who’s worth their salt takes great pride in the fact that they have to do their research,” he said.

Even with painstaking practice, the goal is simple: Make the audience laugh as much as possible.

Guests can get a taste of the fast-paced farce this weekend, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $12 each and sold at the door.

For more information, visit SIK’s Facebook page.

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