On Stage

Welcome Back!

From students to stars

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When looking at the roster of current mainstage performers at the Upfront Theatre, a common theme soon emerges.

Research indicates that at least five actors who regularly head onstage at the longtime improv-focused theater first learned their creative craft as members of Western Washington University’s Dead Parrots Society. Dig deeper into the list of Upfront alumni over the past 14 years, and the number of those who first learned to think and act in the moment at the institute of higher learning up the hill becomes even larger.

“Improv is a craft that encourages crossover,” Upfront general manager and performer Billy Tierney says. “It is common for people to get involved in improv in college and then for them to desire to do it more professionally either once they graduate or even in tandem with their college experience.

“Our current artistic director, Kris Erickson, is a former AD of the Dead Parrots. In fact, we have had several former Dead Parrot ADs join our mainstage ensemble over the years. Overall, when people love improvisation and they go from having an outlet in a college group to being in the world without, they seek us out.”

Of course, that’s not to say everyone who attends the Welcome Back Students shows taking place at 7:30pm and 9:30pm this Friday and Saturday at the Bay Street venue will feel the calling to make improvisational comedy part of their everyday lives. But after watching an hour-and-a-half of both short-form games and long-form improv, those in the audience will have a better idea of what it’s all about.

“It will be like a sneak peak behind the curtain of what we do year-round, but encapsulated into four hilarious ‘Welcome Back’ shows,” Tierney says.

Students and members of the public who watch a show and do feel the need to learn more about listening, being in the moment and getting out of their own heads can also look to the Upfront’s School of Improv for guidance. At last glance, there were still spaces available for weekly “Intro to Improv” classes beginning Sun., Sept. 30 and Mon., Oct. 1 and continuing through late November.

If additional schooling isn’t something you have time for right now, you can still learn by watching. In addition to now selling popcorn and hotdogs, the Upfront is back to doing at least six shows a week after the summer break.

“On the performance side of things we are continually working on staying sharp and connected with one another, and we’re also sticking to certain things that work for us well,” Tierney says. “For example, this October will be the twelfth consecutive October of running our improvised murder mystery, ‘Hellingham. ’ So even though the show’s been brought back so many times, we’ve tinkered with it and adjusted it to be great all the time and worked on our improv enough to have each show stand out and be riotously funny.”

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Events
Today
Bellingham at Home Informational Meeting

1:00pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Endangered Species Curator's Tour

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Prosecutors race is a referendum on reform

6:00pm

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Where the sidewalk ends

7:00pm

Walking to the End of the World

7:00pm|Village Books

Brian Dean Trio

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Climate Change and Forests

7:00pm|Sustainable Living Center

Modified documentary and Panel Discussion

7:30pm|Pickford Film Center

Trove Web
Tomorrow
Parkinson's Dance Class

10:00am|Ballet Bellingham

Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Komo Kulshan Ski Swap

4:00pm|Bloedel Donovan

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Camber Exhcange

5:30pm|1820 Scout Place

Falling Out of the Box Jewelry Challenge

6:00pm|Jansen Art Center

Squash Celebration

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Chuckanut Radio Hour

6:30pm|Whatcom Community College

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Nooksack River Travelogue

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

The Duck Variations

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

The Skriker

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Side Show

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

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Friday
Fall Craft & Antique Show

10:00am|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Komo Kulshan Ski Swap

4:00pm|Bloedel Donovan

The Duck Variations

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

The Skriker

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Side Show

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Cider Days

11:00am|Camber

Fall Family Weekend

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Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Spaghetti Feed

5:00pm|Ferndale Senior Center

Bread and Puppet Theater

5:00pm|Laurel Park

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Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Gore and Lore Tours

6:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

7:00pm|Blaine High School

Friday Night Flicks

7:00pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Pride and Prejudice

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A Night with Miguel de Hoyos

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Laura Read and Friends

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