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Austin, TX 78701 Map

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January, 2011

Student Testimonials

We’ve been teaching classes at the Hideout since 1999, but in the fall of 2008 we started sending surveys to each graduating Level One class.  On the survey (which included several questions engineered to help us optimize the Hideout’s student experience) we invited them to give us a brief quote or testimonial.  These are the collected quotes:

“The class environment is very laid-back and low-pressure, which is perfect for shy people or anyone who’s never seen improv performed before and has no clue what they’re doing.  I loved learning all the games and exercises and meeting people involved with improv in Austin.”

“You think that improv is about comedy but it’s not.  It’s about being comfortable with yourself in an unnatural and uncomfortable situation then letting things happen naturally.  The comedy part is the result.”

“I loved that the class was just about having fun because sometimes we forget how to have fun.”

“Improv is great fun and also helps give you lessons you can use in your every day life.”

“It was extended stimulation for hours that I never wanted to end. Time never mattered.”

“There were chicks, which was good.”

“The people who teach the class are awesome and its a great vibe.”

“This class appreciates weirdness.”

“You will gain confidence that will help in situations where you would normally not know what to say or do.”

“Best way to relieve stress.  A makeover for your fun side.”

“Really bad-ass improv comedy class in Austin where you get to just chill and learn to improv — join it.”

“The Hideout’s Level One improv class is this year’s box office surprise. I laughed, I cried, and at times… I was a little afraid.  Andy Crouch delivers a dynamic powerhouse performance worthy of an Oscar nod, but its the strong supporting cast that really made Level One work.  5 Stars, 2 Thumbs Up, 92% on Rottentomatoes.com”

“It’s really fun and easy going. They ask you to take risks, but you don’t even realize it’s a risk when you do it because it feels like such a safe environment. Plus you get to laugh your ass off for three hours with people you just met! Total score!”

“The Hideout’s improv class is a lot of fun and a great way to meet new people.  It’s a good investment for anyone who wants to have a few good laughs, get more involved in the Austin comedy scene, or just get more comfortable having off-the-cuff conversations in every day life.”

“If you like to laugh, make others laugh, be laughed at (and laughed with), then these improv classes might be for you. For me it’s all of the above plus cheap (relatively) therapy.”

“Andy Crouch is a wholesome, corn-fed young man. The classes were well worth the money. It allows you to develop skills and abilities that affect your life as a whole, not just on stage.”

“I would recommend the Level One to anyone, whether they had theater/comedy aspirations or not. Primarily because in my mind the goal is to teach students to be conformable with letting go and being spontaneous. It really just a good life skill and its a lot more fun than therapy.”

“Even if (or especially if) you feel nervous about doing improv, Andy and Roy will make you feel not only comfortable in playing, but bring it out in such an ingenious way, you’ll be laughing a lot.”

“It’s not as scary as you think!  In fact, it’s a very friendly, encouraging atmosphere.”

“I learned a lot about myself and how I think. I’m also more comfortable with failure as a normal part of the learning process in general, not just in performance. I always left class with more energy than when I got there.”

“Having the classes on Mondays really took the edge of of Mondays.”

“I liked the narrative focus that I saw coming out of the Hideout graduates.”

“There wasn’t any aspect of the class that I didn’t enjoy. There were exercises that I found personally challenging and didn’t like while I was doing them, but was glad I did them in retrospect.”

“Great for actors or for people who just want to exercise creativity and make better chat at parties.”

“I love it.  Its a perfect venue for anyone who considers him or herself a misfit to let it all hang out and not feel awkward.”

“Improv classes are THE MOST FUN thing I have ever done.  I immediately felt very close to all my classmates, as if we were going through an adventurous and exotic rite of passage.”

“I liked the ideas that class is a VERY SAFE place to fail,  failure is success,  and nothing is stupid or uncool.   I felt very supported and encouraged.”

“I like the philosophy of improv that I have learned so far.  I like the way the exercises so pointedly support that philosophy.”

“I like the dynamism of the class, instructors and students.”

“I appreciate the fact that the instructors are very excited about improv and don’t seem to lose enthusiasm.”

“I like the fact that we are encouraged to see other performances.  That’s something I might not have thought of.”

“I like that we are encouraged to hang out after class.  It is fun to get to know classmates and others better.”

“I am trying to think of something I do not like.  I guess I do not like that I did not discover the class earlier.”

“There is no FEAR!  You’re taught right away that the goal is to have fun.  Failure is celebrated.  My class had a nice variety of people…younger to elder…pop culture experts to novices.  The only common thread we had was that we all like to laugh, which we all did…a lot.”

“Roy and Troy did a great job keeping it fun.  Thanks for the laughs.”

“This class is awesome. You will do at least one thing that scares you. You will try something and fail. You will HAVE A TON OF FUN. Go! Do it!”

“I loved getting permission to fail.”

“I’ve recommended the Level One course to several friends who are looking to open up and be more interesting human beings
It’s incredibly fun, great teachers, fun games, applicable to fun in life.”

“It’s like preschool…you go in and play games for three hours…you laugh the whole time and you painlessly and osmotically learn while you’re there.”

“I was worried taking an improv class was going to be really challenging and I would just bomb out.  Me?  Doing improv?  That’s ridiculous, I’m not that funny!  In reality the class was a very low-key introduction to what improv is all about.  No matter how badly you think you’ll suck, I guarantee, you can make it through Level One.”

“Improv is an excellent tool for developing life skills and having fun. By learning to be spontaneous and take risks you see everyday experiences in a whole new and entertaining (sometimes wacky) light. Recommended for both the shy and the adventurous.”

“This is playtime for adults.  One of the most satisfyingly entertaining experiences I’ve ever had.”

“If you don’t like meeting interesting people and hate laughing for three hours straight, don’t show up.  Seriously.”

“You’ll be surprised how applicable the lessons are to everyday interpersonal communication.”

“There is a really positive attitude in the class that pulls more out of people than they expect.”

“The lessons learned in this class apply to all aspects of having an enjoyable life.  We broke down our fear of failure into enjoyable expressions of celebration.  These classes increased my abilities to think on my feet and take on things that I was uncomfortable with doing before.  A thoroughly enjoyable time.”

“It’s similar to Pulp Fiction – after experiencing it the first time you’re a bit confused, not sure why some parts made you laugh, you don’t quite understand it but you really like it and you want to go back for more.”

“It kicks ass and it was uber fun.”

“I wanted to get a start somewhere in acting, and the Hideout classes are a great non-stress way to get your toes wet. It’s also an excellent way to figure out how to loosen up and calm down, or to step outside your head and just let things happen.”

“The experience I had taking Improv Level One at the Hideout was the most fun I’ve had in a really long time.  It was such as blast doing the improv exercises and scene work!  I never thought I would be able to get so much  out of my comfort zone, embarrass myself in public (and even make the public laugh sometimes), and have such a good time doing it!”

“I was learning while laughing; three hours never felt so short. I would come home excited and energized and find myself eagerly awaiting the next class. Snippets of class would run through my head, causing me to giggle in public for no obvious reason.”

“Great fun — and it really helped me loosen up and be more spontaneous. Of course, I got to meet some great people and made friends.”

“No matter what you’ll have a good time. Whether you’re taking it for improv, acting, or social purposes the class will make the experience one to remember.”

“The Improv class was great for me because it gave me a chance to improve on so many things in my life that I wanted to focus on while meeting other entusiastic people and having fun. Our instructor led us into new experiences that personally helped me be more expressive, confident, spontaneous, funny, positive, and at ease while communicating.”

“I met some very interesting people, and I feel more at ease with performing.”

“It’s so much fun and digs deep! You really learn a lot about yourself and it’s so freeing!”

“The Hideout classes are very fun with no pressure.”

“I recommend this class.  You should take it.”

“This class is fun!  All the social exercises help you develop confidence in public speaking and confidence in approaching people in general.  I was pretty wired after the very first class because I was made to speak, act and do things I would otherwise never have done.   Highly recommend it!”

“You’ll have a lot of fun, relax in front of people and earn a few new drinkin’ buddies. This class actually made me look forward to Mondays.”

“I loved the games.  The games drastically changed my focus from serious work to ready to play.  The games really helped in becoming more open when performing scenes.  I didn’t think as much.”

“I liked how nice Andy and Roy were. I liked that the loose ends were eventually tied up. I liked the camaraderie of after-class drinks. I liked everything.”

“Roy and Troy are great teachers. My classmates were really fun and nice too. I’m coming back for level 2.”

“I noticed that Troy and Roy did a particularly good job at transitioning from one exercise to the next.  I loved it.”

“Wouldn’t change a damn thing. Great experience all around.”

“I like the philosophy of improv that I have learned so far.  I like the way the exercises so pointedly support that philosophy.”

“Roy and Troy did a great job keeping it fun.  Thanks for the laughs.”

“I liked knowing I could do my part in improv without having to always be funny. I could move the scene forward and help other people be funny. I could be unintentionally funny. Or I could just BE. And that was awesome.”

“I loved getting permission to fail.”

“Kareem and Roy are hilarious.  Great teachers.”

“I really liked the fact that we went through a number of games and didn’t bog down on anything in particular.  The fact that each class had a theme was great too!”

“I really enjoyed this class.  It was a random group of people, that came together, learned stuff about themselves and each other, and had a lot of fun.  I felt that I grew from this class and I hope that I helped others grow at the same time.”

“I liked how ridiculous we got to be. I liked the people in my class — I would spend time with them outside of class!  I like the new floor in the green room. I like the Hideout lemonade. I also like giraffes.”

“I liked the introduction to new ways to approach situations. I enjoyed doing different excercised that helped me learn new skills
The improv classes at The Hideout are basically a step-by-step guide to being fun, goofy, in the moment, and an awesome opportunity to laugh your butt off with a bunch of really funny people.”

“I have already recommended the class to multiple friends/coworkers. It’s a great way to put more fun and spontaneity into your life.
These classes are really cool.  You have a LOT of fun in them.  Improv also helps you get out of your shell.  You meet new people.  It’s affordable.”

“Taking this class is a great way to meet new people, learn how to act and talk spontaneously, and have a blast at the same time.  It really helped me to think and act on my toes.  And its refreshingly fresh in amongst a lot of other pre-prepared, and dry comedy elsewhere!
I loved how well I got to know everyone in the class.  The way the class is taught allows everyone to really get to know each other in a stress-free atmosphere.”

“This is a brand of fun you won’t find anywhere else. Playing the improv games and watching my classmates were equally hilarious. Oddly enough the skills I effortlessly learned in class applied immediately to my social life. Making conversation in a roomful of new faces became noticeably easier once I stopped thinking so hard about where to start. Just start!”

“This was a really excellent way to overcome some social anxiety and learn how to just have fun playing pretend as an adult
I really enjoyed the low-pressure atmosphere you guys offer.  Once I understood I could say anything and would not be judged for it, I was at ease.  The classes were very enjoyable and the teachers were excellent.”

“The three-hour class flies by.  It brings together diverse groups of people to engage in playful fun.  It makes you question and examine how you interact with other people, outside of improv.  It helps you let go of anxiety.  Beers afterward provide for some excellent bonding time with the classmates.”

“It is more spiritual than I expected, like a course in overcoming the fear of being judged by other people. Also a great way to make new friends.”

“It’s a wonderful way to unwind and find that little bit of smile at the end of the day.”

“Fun. You get to be a kindergartner for six sessions. Good for confidence in general. Nice anxiety reliever.”

“The Hideout Theatre is a really relaxed and fun environment where you get to meet and play with all kinds of new people, without having to worry about getting any pesky STDs.”

“You learn a bunch of great skills you can take into your everyday life even if you’re not theatrical or a comedian. Learning how to improvise just makes you better at life.”

“Level One was a fantastic opportunity to interact with a diverse group of people in a very low-pressure environment…and a lot of fun!”

“Looking for a legitimate excuse to drink on a Wednesday night? Look no further than Level One improv at the Hideout.”

“Andy makes it safe to f*@k up. He has an amazing ability to give positive feedback for everyone for anything we do.”

“I think it is cool that folks are taking the class for a wide variety of reasons, personal growth, to meet people, enhance their stage/film performance capabilities.”

“I started to feel that the older I got, the more timid and boring I became and I wanted to find something to help me overcome that.  This class did just that by reminding me how to take risks and have fun just like the good old days.”

“This class has helped me get back in touch with my playful and outgoing side.  And meeting a new group of amazing people was a bonus!”

“My improv class was a lot of fun — we all had tons of laughs together.  Don’t think you have to be funny to participate, it is still a blast.”

“It’s a fun, easy-going class. Don’t worry about not having done improv before.”

“Its a great time to let loose.  I found myself smiling for the entire class!”

“The spontaneity is really therapeutic. Interestingly I have found myself jumping into conversations now where before I would have held back. It’s helped air out my creative side so that life is, generally, more fun.”

“It’s ZEN-like.  It translates to life, even if you have zero plans for theater improv or comedy.  Taking risks, getting out of your head and recognizing obsessive planning as ego-armor, and practicing being in the moment…all life skills any and every one can benefit from honing.”

“It is awesome! You should try it if you just want to have fun.”

“Going to improv at the Hideout just gives some relief from the rest of my week.  It is a great outlet and it is super fun! I would recommend it for anyone who is at least remotely interested in improv.”

“It is so much easier than one would think.  Everyone I talk to thinks I have done this crazy thing by joining an improv class, but it is so easy.  And you learn how simple it is to make someone laugh.  But most of all, it is just fun, and a great release from the everyday life.
It’s like paying to have fun! wait…”

“Level One is a fun way to stretch and get  you out of your comfort zone.”

“I took my classes on Saturdays and it just charged me up creatively.  It gave me a little extra zip for the rest of the week.”

“Getting together and playing pretend like a bunch of five-year-olds in a consequence-free environment is totally liberating.”

“It’s the cheapest, most fun therapy on the planet.”

“It is a great learning experience about yourself: who am I and how do I interact with others?”

“The whole experience has been this odd dance between therapeutic breakthroughs, moments of hilarity and wonderfully progressing in my ability to be in the moment more. It’s really been an awesome ride, well worth every penny.”

“Like most people on day one of their Improv career, I was nervous that it would be like a formal drama class and that I would “fail” and be embarrassed.  VERY quickly I realized how much fun it is to fail.  It’s an incredibly amazing low-pressure atmosphere… there’s no such thing as “stage fright” or doing the “wrong thing”!!”

“Improve class is a great way to meet people and immediately start having a good time with them.”

“Great fun, and really helps you feel comfortable when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.”

“I took it because it’s cheaper than therapy.”

“Accepting failure helped me to relax a bit at work.”

“Try something different.  You never know what you might learn.”

“This class was super funtastic.  Getting an adult play date every week has definitely been a great stress reliever to long work weeks.  The instructors are fun and the games are crazy good times.”

“The instruction is a great combination of structure and zaniness — thoughtful, nurturing, and fun.”

“Want to have fun and meet new people, come here!”

“Where else in life, as an adult, are you encouraged to play, make mistakes and it be a gift, and have fun while learning a lot about yourself and others?”

“I didn’t know what to expect except that I would probably be crazy nervous but I wasn’t!  From day one, it’s just fun and awesome and you get to be a part of your own little very-not-normal family.”

“It’s fun, also improv classes make you use your brain in way you don’t often get to in adult life.  I think it has a lot of potential real world benefits.  I’d recommend this class in particular because the instructors genuinely seem to want to help the students.”

“I had great fun and felt like a kid again. It helped me let loose and really stop being in my head so much. Definitely a good thing to help you relax.”

“Andy was great, and it was was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time.”

“Andy was awesome. Jason was awesome. The class was awesome! It was a lot of fun and the instructors are really open to different ideas which is great!”

“It’s a wonderful place to act like an idiot and not get in trouble socially.  It’s a great place to get lost in the moment and forget outside troubles.”

“The instructors are amazing! Andy and Jason are easy to work with and help you along the way to break free of feeling self conscious. YOU CAN NEVER FAIL AT ANYTHING WITH THEM. You meet new people and make new friends. Everyone in the class is as friendly as can be.”

“It is very structured.  I’ve been in improv classes that are looser and more free-form, and these tend to lead to a lot of wasted time.  The Hideout’s class structure utilizes the time better than most, and gives everyone an opportunity to perform instead of creating an environment of ‘fighting for stage time.'”

“It was fun and the instructors were great! Great philosophies and life lessons.  Great way to meet fun people.”

“Easy.  Safe.  Fun.  Good times.  Cool people.”

“We play games, lots of games, but then we apply what we learn and it all has practical application.”

“Improv is one of the few sectors of the adult world where your allowed (encouraged even) to throw your left brain out the window, play pretend and make believe, and fail with pride. Liberating! Do it do it do it do it. Good for your body, mind, and soul.”

“I felt incredibly comfortable with Marc and Troy. I trusted that whatever they had us do, it was exactly what we needed at that point in our development to push us out of our comfort zones and sharpen our skills. By the end of each class the purpose or lesson of every exercise was apparent.”

“Compared to other Level One classes that I’ve taken, I got the most out of this one.  I think that a great environment for growth was fostered in the classroom, and that everyone benefited from it.”

“It’s a fun, low-risk way to try out your stage skills.”

“Every second of this class has been fun and engaging, and I think this class is already having a big impact for my life!  Opening up more, having more fun, being less afraid to fail.”

“I thought Andy and Jessica made a great team.  They lead the class so well, great mix of flexibility and encouraging the flow, while keeping us moving forward with the concepts.”

“How many places can you go and have a blast laughing and acting silly for a few hours?”

“If you need to let go and learn how to fail with joy in your heart–take this class!”

“This class is awesome. It’s a great way to make friends, let loose and just laugh and have a great time!”

“Great way to meet new people. Great way to let loose and decompress. Fast way to get to know new people well. Great laugh. A big challenge! Useful advice for life.”

“The class is a really great way to let go of your inhibitions, make new friends, and laugh a lot. You’ll also get a nice window into Austin’s world of improv!”

“Even if you’ve taken improv classes elsewhere, the Hideout offers a unique perspective on many of the fundamental skills that I found invaluable.”

“This class is like having a sexy time explosion in your brain.”

“I always recommend improv and always the Hideout.”

“I learned a lot of skills that I could apply to more than just improv – embracing failure, living in the moment, etc. Plus, it was way more fun than reading a self-help book.”

“I’m officially addicted to the risk, the joy, the learning, the supportive environment and instructors at the Hideout. You guys should start a cult — I would totally join.”

“This class really helped make me more comfortable with working with people I didn’t know, and also gave me a good foundation on how to be more assertive and brave.”

“I love the class, the people, the games…everything. The Hideout has the best people.”

“The classes at the Hideout are for everyone. E v e r y o n e. Seriously, there are things about yourself that you don’t know and you don’t even know that you don’t know. Take a class and watch yourself expand and grow in ways you never expected. Lighten your heart, open your eyes, jump into the fun!”

“The instructors make everyone feel comfortable and excited to be there. Tuesday use to be my least favorite day of the week…until I signed up for improv at the Hideout. “

“Improv is about getting comfortable with yourself, other people and with the world around you. Anyone would benefit from improv classes.”

“If I was going to die, taking improv classes at The Hideout would be at the top of my bucket list!”

“It really is the perfect class for a nervous beginner.”

“The course was great!  It gave me a good feel for improv and was a whole lot of fun. It also helped me take some chances and started to help me overcome my fear of performing in front of others.”

“It’s a blast! Such a great way to take risks and still have fun. I wasn’t planning on going beyond level one and now I’m seriously interested in performing and being in the shows.”

“I can honestly say that I wake up on Tuesdays so excited because it is Improv Day. Thank you.”

“I think that the classes help with life skills as much as entertainment skills. The class is not just for those wanting to learn about improv, it’s for those wanting to learn how to adapt to different types of social settings including but not limited to those that are often awkward.”

“I left my first class thinking: Awesome! That was thrilling, hilarious and fun”

“Since taking the class I have had a few moments where I allowed myself more freedom in just expressing myself in the moment.  That is a huge change, or perhaps the beginning of a huge change.”

“I was completely inspired. I don’t think I could’ve gotten a better result.”

“One of the best experiences of my life and I plan to continue and finish all six levels.”

“I had a great time learning to open up and say Yes AND!!!”

“It’s one of the funnest things I’ve done in a long time. I don’t know when I last laughed so much.”

“There are so many life lessons in improv — being in the moment, not listening to that inner critic, having fun! It’s helping me loosen up in other areas of my life.”

“Energizing, eye opening, interesting…and it feels great being silly and not worrying about being judged for it.”

“Whether or not you are interested in improv or not, I feel like you can go to this class and learn how to grow as a person. Everyone is nice and friendly and the environment is prime for learning and evolving as a human being.”

“The class had a predictable unpredictability about it. Though we never knew exactly what we would be doing, I quickly realized that whatever it was would be OK, we would be OK within it, and we would be gaining some new insight or skill from it. So there was a definite structure within the fun, and as a student I felt like I could trust where we were being led and the environment that was being created in each class.”

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Honor the Secret, by Jordan T. Maxwell

Here’s some thoughts from Jordan T. Maxwell, a long time Hideout Theatre performer, who recently moved back to Austin from Los Angeles and joined the 2nd season of Austin Secrets. Here are his thoughts about the show and the rehearsal process so far. Take it away, Jordan:

My first experience with Austin Secrets was during last season’s run. I was visiting town from Los Angeles and wanted to see my friends perform. I knew nothing about the format. I lucked out in getting one of the final tickets before that night’s show sold out. I sat down expecting a standard improv show (which is, I know, a contradiction in terms…but even still). What I got was so much more.

It was unique. It was theatrical without taking itself seriously. It was playful without being frivolous. It was a five ring multimedia circus of revelation and confession, a strange alchemy of spontaneous fiction sprung from deep internal truth. The audience was keyed in. The players were in top form. It was hilarious. It was moving. There were moments of knowing laughter, moments of shocked (or perhaps feigned) disgust and delicious moments of awkward silence.

Naturally, I started telling people about it…but more strangely, other people started telling ME about it. I’m used to proselytizing about Austin improv to others. I’m not overly accustomed to having word of mouth come my way. Which only reinforced what I’d already felt that night in the theatre: this show was special.

Shortly after I moved back to Austin, I got the announcement that there were going to be auditions for a second season. My first thought was, “SECOND SEASON?” accompanied by a squeal of delight pitched far too high for a man of my age, stature and build. My second thought, “I HAVE to be in this!”

The audition had a huge turnout…seasoned veterans, established players and even students. It was such a fun and supportive environment, even just watching other people’s scenes, that I left with the feeling that even if I didn’t make it, it would be okay because the show would still be excellent. Which made getting selected as one of the few new cast members even more of an honor!
The rehearsal process has been even more fun and challenging. I’ve been doing improv for almost 12 years and in a lot of ways it’s been like going back to basics because in addition to every other rule, tenet and philosophy I’ve learned and trained with, there is one more underlying principle to maintain: always honor the secret. I often like to let a suggestion bounce around inside my brain, playing a cognitive game of free association pinball, and use it more as indirect inspiration than something that has to be directly portrayed. But unlike other shows, the suggestions are not random occupations or locations or emotions shouted out as the first thing to enter an audience member’s mind. They are the deep confessions, the silly embarrassments, the hidden intimate truths of people’s lives. They have power that should not be easily discarded.

So scenes that would be amazing in any other show might not work as an Austin Secrets scene. A character that would stand out on any other night might not be the best Austin Secrets character. So we have to remain true to the fundamentals of improv but always, ALWAYS honor the secret. A secret may inspire a multitude of ways to portray it, but which truly honor the secret? A funny secret might work as a more serious minded scene, but would a deeper and more personal secret work in a lighter or even goofier depiction? That’s the process of discovery we’ve undertaken together. The returning cast members have the benefit of trial and error from last season, the wisdom of gifts and mistakes (often masquerading as one another) they’re happy to remind each other of and share with those of us newer to the fold. And then of course through the miracle of accidents we find something that utterly subverts all of that, usually sending us into fits of laughter, discussion or both. We’re all still learning. We’re all still discovering.

I’ve been doing improv for over a third of my life.

I’m just a beginner.

We’re a company of trained professionals.

We’re all just starting out.

Who knows what we’ll learn and discover tomorrow?

Thanks, Jordan! If that piques your interest, come see Austin Secrets on Saturdays at 8pm in January and February. Get your tickets here.

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What Makes Austin Secrets Tick?

The first mainstage show The Hideout will be doing in 2011 will be the return of Austin Secrets. I am very excited to be a part of this show again. I had some of my favorite improv moments on stage during the first run of this show, and I’ve heard other cast members express the same sentiment.

So what makes this show feel different, for both the performers and the audience?

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