On Stage

Welcome Back!

From students to stars

Attend

What: Welcome Back Students Shows

Where: Upfront Theatre, 1208 Bay St.

More:

WHEN: 7:30pm and 9:30pm Fri.-Sat., Sept. 28-29

Cost: $10-$12

Info: http://www.theupfront.com

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.”

March Silver Reef
More On Stage...
Puppet Play
Some strings attached

Following a recent viewing of the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I was reminded of how closely connected beloved PBS television host Fred Rogers was to his puppets—specifically, Daniel Striped Tiger, the soft-spoken resident of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe who came to life in…

more »
Playwright Spotlight
Two actors, one foot

By the time Lojo Simon’s One Foot opens March 14 at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, iDiOM Theater’s Dyo Festival—a five-week celebration of plays and stories for two performers—will be in full swing. We caught up with the playwright to find out what makes her tick. She’ll be in…

more »
Barrels of Fun
Depot Comedy Club

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A student graduates from Western Washington University, leaves for Seattle to pursue big-city dreams, then eventually returns to Bellingham to fulfill their destiny.

Travis Nelson is the person of interest in this familiar paradigm, but he’s…

more »
Events
Today
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Cook It and Book It

3:30pm|Lynden Library

Artist Workshop

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Flavors of the Philippines

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Imar

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Punch Up Comedy Showcase and Open Mic

7:30pm|The Shakedown

The Hunts
Tomorrow
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Lynden Front Streeters

2:00pm|Village Books

Ferndale Book Group

2:30pm|Ferndale Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Ferndale Books on Tap

6:30pm|DownTime Taps

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Balanced Plant-Based Living

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Moon Walk

6:30pm|Whatcom County

Milo Petersen Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Grain by Grain

7:00pm|Village Books

Burlington-Edison Choir Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books
Thursday
Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest

8:00am|Whatcom County

La Conner Daffodil Festival

10:00am|La Conner and the Skagit Valley

Regional High School Art Show

8:00am|Northwest Educational Service District

Birding Adventures

9:00am|Skagit Valley

Essence of Bellingham Photo Competition

12:00pm

Imagine Convergence on Orcas Island

12:00pm|Rosario Resort

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Dig Deep

3:00pm|Deming Library

Happy Hour Thursdays

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Pub Run

6:00pm|Stone's Throw Brewery

Ancient Beauty

6:30pm|Deming Library

Native American Flute Workshop

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Cross-Country Bicycling Travelogue

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

Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure

7:00pm|Meridian High School

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Wild Mercy

7:00pm|Village Books

Asleep at the Wheel

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Dyo Festival Plays

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Bellingham Puppetry and Mask Festival

7:30pm|Alternative Library

Asleep at the Wheel

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Legally Blonde The Hunts Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1