Florida Studio Theatre's longtime improv troupe returns for the fall and winter seasons starting weekly at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays on Oct. 17 armed with a new comedic weapon: sketch comedy.
Florida Studio Theatre is a compound of constantly evolving theatrical entertainment. With its cabaret in full swing with "Soul Mates: A Journey to Hitsville" and preparing for the opening of its winter mainstage season with "One Man, Two Guvnors" in November, there is a whole different kind of transformation and change happening back in the Bowne's Lab Theatre and the FST Improv troupe.
Opening for the fall season on Saturday, October 17 at 7:30 p.m. and running weekly throughout the season on Saturdays and select Fridays, FST Improv returns armed not only with its classic improv shows but also with new holiday-themed shows and, for the first time, sketch comedy.
Joining the troupe's traditional improv shows like "Life's A Beach" and "Out of Bounds" that incorporate classic improv games and audience interaction, FST's director of improv Will Luera and his diverse cast of comedians will add sketch comedy with a holiday flavor to the theater's comedic rotation.
"We're going to take the 'We're Doomed' format from this past year and apply it to Halloween to poke fun at some of the tropes of Halloween and horror movies," says Luera. "We're also going to put a twist on our show 'When X Meets Y' and play off those holiday romantic comedies, but in musical form. Think of movies like 'Love Actually' and 'When Harry Met Sally.'"
Unlike the game-based shows that are most improv troupe's reliable laugh producers, the musical sketch format brought to FST by Luera and his troupe take one concept (like Halloween or winter holiday rom-coms) and explore all the tropes, pop culture references and situations to garner the most laughs in one continuous and improvisational narrative.
In addition to the holiday sketch shows, FST Improv is adding programming aimed at the youngest and oldest members of Sarasota. "Improv Adventure" is a new family-friendly show appropriate for all ages, and "Early Bird Special" is a new show for seniors and created by seniors.
Luera says that he's able to produce such a diverse lineup of shows thanks to the comedic resources at his disposal. "It's the only collection of performers that I've ever worked with that captures as large a cross-section of the diverse society we are all a part of," says Luera. "In one cast of 14, we have a multi-racial and multi-generational mix that is very unique. In addition, we have an almost 50 percent gender breakdown, with gay and straight performers and political views ranging from staunch conservatives to bleeding heart liberals. Yet every weekend we can come together to make our audience members laugh together."