Thank You, Places’: An adven­tur­ous, inter­ac­tive blend of musi­cal the­ater and improv

2 minute read
The improv show relies on the energy of the audience. (Photo provided by Thank You, Places Improv)
The improv show relies on the energy of the audience. (Photo provided by Thank You, Places Improv)

Thank You, Places: An Improvised Musical is a one-hour Broadway-style musical that is entirely made up on the spot, created from a single word suggestion from the audience. The show was born in 2017 and is currently the only musical improv team regularly performing in Philadelphia.

The Thank You, Places ensemble cast hails from strong musical-theater, opera, and theater backgrounds. Each scene in the show starts with a standard conversation between scene partners, and then, with a few chords from live pianist Kevin Mucchetti, the dialogue transitions seamlessly into song. With the cast weaving through scenes like a well-oiled machine, the audience is taken on a ride to a musical-theater paradise where you don’t cringe when they hit the high notes. The show regularly packs the house, offering reprieve from the abundance of live comedy shows in the city.

Feeding off the energy

Alanna Shaffer, longtime cast member, describes the symbiotic relationship between the performers and the audience, “As a huge fan of musical theatre, I think I've always been drawn to the high energy of a stage filled with singing and dancing. And the reason why musicals work so well live is because the audience feeds off of that energy and vice versa. Whenever the opening chords start, you can just immediately feel the energy and excitement in the room.” The storylines of their shows vary from wild to incredibly wild. Past shows have been centered on a tree brought to life as a human being looking for love and a musical montage of robbing a bank by digging an underground tunnel.

Storytelling through music and comedy

The team has performed at the We The People Improv Festival in Philadelphia and has also taken their show on the road to the Chicago Musical Improv Festival. What sets this show apart from other comedy shows? Former Broadway performer and cast member Chris Newcomer shares, “The marriage of making music and comedy on the spot is rare. The musical element mixed with long-form storytelling is uniquely special.”

Improv is always a gamble: sometimes you watch an improv show and are astounded by the amount of talent, sharpness, and creativity you just witnessed. Other times you feel as if you just lost an hour of your life that you will never get back. Spend a night rolling the dice with Thank You, Places, performing at 8pm every Saturday at Philly Improv Theater.

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