Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, an improvised musical comedy, came to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Friday, Sept. 19. The night consisted of an 85-minute unscripted theatrical awards show where nominees were created by the audience.
Before entering the theater, the audience was presented with papers and pens which instructed them to write a song title or anything they’d like as a potential song to be performed in the musical they were about to see. Afterwards, the audience found themselves on a red carpet where the host of the award show, Rob Gorden, stood giving interviews.
Gorden introduced the first performer, Robert Z. Grant, who picked a paper out of a jar which had the song title “We Love You Bloomberg” written on it. At that moment, Grant told the audience about the show from which the song “We Love You Bloomberg” comes from, explaining that the show was called “Tulips,” which was set in a garden where everybody speaks Dutch. He followed the explanation with an actual performance of the song “We Love You Bloomberg,” with three other actors singing backup and dancing.
Following this act, Gorden returned onstage to introduce Jeff Scherer who picked the song “People Who are Afraid of Other People.” The show was called “Agoraphobia,” where the main character faced his fear of leaving his house to be with other people. His would-be girlfriend was persistent about him going out and he explained why he couldn’t by singing a song of made-up scenarios that could possibly happen, such as being crushed by a helicopter if he was to go out and be with people.
The next performer, Stefan Schick, picked the song “Ladies in Paris.” The song was from the show “My Baguette is Listening,” where two men, a poet and an artist, are just out of the war and trying to find their next piece of art. Before beginning the song, Schick picked another paper, claiming that his favorite lyric from the song “Ladies in Paris,” was “Will you see me? Will you smile at me?” He performed the song with a backup dancer, while smoking a cigarette through most of the song.
The final performance was by Deb Rabbai who chose the song “Kermit the Frog Romances Miss Piggy.” The song was featured in the show “The Monsters in the Closet,” which involved a 12-year-old boy who was afraid of the monsters in his closet, which caused his mom to sing this song so he could calm down and go to bed. Before Rabbai performed the song, she explained that the choreography in the show is very intense and that the choreographer was in the audience. She then picked a man from the front row and did a dance that was the featured dance in the show. As she performed the song, the monster came out of the closet and antagonized 12-year-old Jeremy while the mother was singing, completely oblivious to the monster that had emerged from the closet.
After all four nominees had performed, they were brought back on stage in order to vote for the winner, which was calculated by the audience’s applause. At first, there was a tie between “Ladies in Paris” and “Kermit the Frog Romances Miss Piggy.” After another round of applause, the award was given to Rabbai for “Kermit the Frog Romances Miss Piggy.”
The entire show was improvised, including the plot twist where the monster in Jeremy’s closet was actually his father who Jeremy believed left him to be a pirate. The father came back home and the other monster was adopted by the family to be Jeremy’s brother. The show concluded with a standing ovation from the audience.
After the show, the actors came onstage to talk with the audience. When Scherer was asked how he chose his path in improvisational theater he said, “I originally wanted to do writing, but then I tried stand-up comedy and it felt too lonely. When I got into improv, it was a perfect fit.”
“The bad part is that you end up doing a lot of your improv for free, but the best part is that we [actors] are on stage cracking each other up and it’s one great time.”
The improv is not only taken care of by the actors, but also by their pianist because it isn’t a musical without music. Gleizner said, “I was first a jazz musician, so originally that’s what I did. I’m from the improv world. We find it easier to read each other and our type of performance is unique and incredible”.
To find out more about Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, visit www.broadwaysnexthitmusical.com.