In a community that is known for exceptional wine, live music of all genres and an emerging culinary scene, it seems that residents continue to crave the opportunity to engage in a unique experience.
Comedy is bursting on the scene as the next new thing and PRN’s ImproVACATIONS! at The Merc delivers that unique experience and takes it one — or seven — steps further.
“Most improv comedy plays out the ‘scene game’ in long form,” said PRN founder and the show’s producer John Kelly. “Audience members throw out a few suggestions and the actors take over from there.”
ImproVACATIONS! aims for quite a bit more audience interaction, a blend of comedy improv, theater, sketch and what Kelly calls “campfires.”
“Campfires refers to this idea that we are all in the sketch together – both actors and audience members,” said Kelly. ”Guests that are interested are brought on stage to actively participate in the scene.”
Wallflowers need not be alarmed.
“Audience participation is 100 percent (voluntary),” Kelly chuckled. “Although we find that by the second act, we have quite a few more folks interested in playing along.”
Kelly and the troupe of five other actors take the time to explain the process to the crowd at the beginning of the evening which seems to put the room at ease.
“Once the brave few engage with us, the rest of the audience quickly warms to the participation factor,” said Kelly. “We often have folks stay over to the second show so they can get in on the action.”
Kelly finds that connecting with the house in such an intense way makes the show a bit more poignant, and of course, funnier.
“In one scene game called ‘Memory Lane,’ the actors interview the audience member and attempt to mimic the stories of their life,” said Kelly. “The audience volunteer gives feedback and the actor must adjust on the spot. This creates a sense of community and some pretty hilarious comedy as well.”
Whether active participants or passive observers, comedy lovers will have something to laugh out loud about for shows planned at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28.
Upcoming shows will be at the same times on August 11 and 25 and comedy fans are encouraged to return as the participation factor makes each show entirely unique.
“This level of audience interaction is the great randomizer,” said Kelly. “It is never the same show twice. We never know what to expect, but it is such a crack up and we love it.”
Kelly is having so much fun, PRN is planning to add additional troupes, both adult and teen, as well as develop an improv musical.
The Merc is located at 42051 Main Street in Temecula.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: www.temeculatheater.org.
For more information on ImproVACATIONS! or to audition, please visit: www.improvacations.com.
Corie Maue is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.