After seeing the show appear on our calendar, I was really curious to learn more about the 2019 version of When ____ Met ____: An Improvised Romantic Comedy.
It's the second year of this show where two audience volunteers play the leads. Don't worry! They're guided by trained improv performers. I saw a 2018 performance and felt VERY impressed with the way the improv performers fully immersed two audience members with absolutely no stage experience.
The core idea of this stage show? The two audience volunteers serve in character as a "couple". They're fully immersed. Details from their true experience inspire the rom com story. The improv team around them creates classic rom com scenes, dialogue, and familiar characters.
And now Baltimore Improv Group gets to say that we’re ahead of the trends! Romantic comedies resurged in film over the last few months. 2018’s headlines highlighted modern takes on the rom com genre – including Love, Simon; Crazy Rich Asians; To All The Boys I Loved Before; and various Hallmark movies.
Dave LaSalle – who you might even know as a BIG mainstage performer with Training for Prom – created the show. I’m very inquisitive so I asked him to tell us more about his vision:
“Improv is magical; it can be life-transforming. Going to see an improv show is joyous and delightful, but in order to fully experience the power of improv, you have to get in the game,” Dave writes.
“That's why I created this show: I wanted to give two people who had no improv experience the opportunity to experience the rush of being stars in an improv show.”
Anne Neal – performer with Old City – is back with the cast this year show after being part of the original cast. We’ve been e-mailing quite a bit as she’s working hard to get the word out:
“I love being in this show because we never know what is going to happen with our volunteer ‘couple’ from the audience,” Anne writes in an e-mail that she gave me permission to over share.
“They really keep the improvisers on our toes. I think it is an audience favorite because it's familiar territory (a rom-com) presented in a way they have never seen before.”
With Jennifer Withers – our very own Artistic Director – being a former Broadway performer, I thought I’d get her take. What’s cool about this show being available to Baltimore's live theatergoers?
“BIG has wonderful, dedicated fans, but part of what is so fun about When ____ Met ____ is that it pulls in Baltimoreans that haven't ever seen an improv show before,” Jenn writes, also in an e-mail. E-mail is still a very popular method of communication.
“The rom-com is such a relatable format; it draws people who are looking for something new and fun to do around Valentine's Day.“
Getting to see a local non-performer gets to show us that the stage is for everyone. Dave told me that audiences learn that living through a rom com or being on stage isn't just for movie stars.
“The show is 100% designed to create a safe and absurdly supportive space for our audience guest-stars to find their feet onstage,” Dave said.
“My measure of the success of the show is whether those two people had a wonderful and memorable experience, and leave saying ‘Wow, I really crushed it up there.’ I also like it if the rest of the audience and the cast had fun.”
“It is a delight to connect to the larger Baltimore community in that way - to see them experience improv for the first time and leave feeling inspired and, hopefully, feeling the love!“ added Jenn.
You too can experience When ____ Met ____: An Improvised Romantic Comedy!! Perhaps you’ll be part of the show! The show runs on Saturday, February 9; Friday, February 15; Saturday, February 16 at 8 p.m.
“It is fast-paced, offering both laughs and poignant moments,” Anne told me. “There truly is something for everyone in it.”
Various BIG members and friends contribute to the blog. Enjoy!