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Improv Tue May 12 2015

The Patina of Improv at MCL Chicago: Antic's Roadshow with Devon Meyers


There are bare bones improv shows out there that rely solely on the spine of the craft to display the quick wits of the performers, but Antic's Roadshow with Devon Meyers at MCL Chicago is not one of those improv shows. It is more of a mash-up of genres -- improv wrapped in a thin plot structure, with a good back story for its characters, a cheesy stand-up Johnny Carson sort of master of ceremonies and a cast who has trotted through one too many musicals. Put that mess together and it transcends itself, becoming a comedy without limiting barriers. Partly interactive variety, partly improv musical show, it serves as a nice alternative to all of the straightforward improv on the streets of Chicago today.

The host, failed appraiser Preston Antic, played by Scott Allen Curry, and the MC, vain television personality Devon Meyers, played by Steven Lyons, liven up the stage with their vaudeville shtick, displaying a good range of wordplay. They paste all of the parts together -- introducing us to the appraisers who accept objects from audience members for assessment -- "Antiques Roadshow" style -- on to the stage where the magic happens. The hilarious appraisals come not just with a dollar value, but also with a song about the object and its owner, only after the appraiser himself gives you his own story in a song. The improv music is accompanied on piano by Anna Torgerson, a woman who knows how to go with the flow.

Each week of the show spotlights a rotating cast to do the appraising. Opening night we were graced with Gene, the appraiser of all things sad and spooky who has mommy issues, played by Zack Shornick; Margie, the admitted hoarder who has a court order, played by Courtney Fontaine; and Babbette, the oldest known living Rockette, played by Liz Joynt Sandberg. Each performer had such splendid satirical command of their characters that one couldn't help but feel the pain of their tragic back story while simultaneously laughing until there was actual face pain.

Of course, the best way to see this show would be to convince your friends to bring an object to be appraised so that you can relish the moment when they are lovingly lampooned on stage. That in itself is well worth the $12 price of the ticket. Antics Roadshow with Devon Meyers will be at MCL Chicago, 3110 N. Sheffield Ave., every Thursday at 10pm through June 25.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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