Alcohol plays a starring role in the Chicago improv show featuring the cast of Second City, IO and ComedySportz at the Annoyance Theater

Chicago– Every Friday night for the past decade, a group of improv actors from Second City, IO, ComedySportz and other small troupes have gathered at Chicago’s Annoyance Theater to perform a unique, totally improvised two-act comedy thriller inspired by the master of suspense. , Alfred Hitchcock.

Their show is called “Hitch*Cocktails”, and what makes it unique is actually in the title of the show. Because yes, there are cocktails and other alcoholic drinks served during the show. But in addition to the drinks served to the audience, the actors also soak up the stage, drinking alcohol in a well-stocked bar, which is to the right of the stage.

In fact, drinking is part of the show’s overall structure. There’s a rule that any character offered a drink during the hour-and-a-half-long show must finish their cocktail before the scene ends.

“As you may recall, this is a two-act show,” said “Hitch*Cocktails” artistic director and performer Cynthia Bangert. “So at the end of the show, it can get pretty wild on stage.”

In May, the good folks at “Hitch*Cocktails” celebrate a milestone. It’s the 10th anniversary of the show, which opened at Chicago’s Annoyance Theater in May 2012.

The troupe held special performances at the Annoyance to commemorate the anniversary on 19 and 20 May.

“It’s the most unique show I’ve been on, it’s the longest show I’ve ever been on, and it’s my favorite show I’ve ever been on,” said Bangert. “Sometimes you go out and put on the show and you can tell right away it’s going to be a party from start to finish.”

But this party has become a Chicago institution, a staple for Friday night audiences looking for a different style of improv. The troupe also performed and taught in workshops across the country. And they were named “Best Improv/Sketch Group in Chicago” by the Chicago Reader in 2016.

Members of the show say its combination of improvised narrative theater with alcohol creates an element of surprise, which is unlike most other shows.

“There’s a real sense of spontaneity,” said CJ Tuor, performer and longtime show co-founder. “That’s one of the reasons theater is different from TV or movies, anything that happens, because it’s live.”

One thing remains the same: at the start of each show, the performers ask the audience for suggestions on a potential theme for the show.

RELATED: Hulu’s ‘Fleishman Is In Trouble’ Child Actor Started Doing Stand-Up With Mom

“The suggestion we’re looking for is fear,” Tuor said. “We want unique scares. We’ve had suggestions like mustard, escalators, jamming your fingernails so hard they fall off. And from those scares, we’re making a complete genre thriller of the 1940s, 50s and 60.”

After receiving suggestions from their audience, the actors begin the show, aided by pitchers of cocktails, vaguely identified as “brown” or “less brown” by the actors.

This cast offers a variety of other alcoholic options behind the bar, from charcoal-filtered vodka to Malort. In order to prove that the drinks from the bar on stage are alcoholic, some spectators are invited to do a taste test before the start of the show.

“If you come to our show, you might be lucky enough to be selected to drink the horrible concoctions we drink on stage,” Tour said.

Although veteran actors are careful to maintain control during scenes, working while drinking presents obvious challenges.

“Hitch*Cocktails” singer Bri Fitzpatrick, who also serves as the show’s cultural coordinator, said the group is always aware of how to meet these challenges.

“We do really risky things on stage,” Fitzpatrick said. “We drink, and then we have love scenes and death scenes, and sometimes we do ill-advised stunts, but we always check before every show we do and do what’s called a consent check. And everyone is always safe.”

Fitzpatrick said audiences who check out “Hitch*Cocktails” will experience something different from the usual show at Second City or IO

“It’s definitely different from something like some of the short-form improv games that some people might be used to,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s long-form narrative theater with a complicated plot. And, as we like to say, the plot gets complicated somehow, because we were also drinking.”

“Hitch*Cocktails” plays every Friday night at 10 p.m. at the Annoyance Theater, 851 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button