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Farragut Improv celebrates ‘sweet 16’

Some familiar faces are coming home to Farragut High School to celebrate the FHS Comedy Improv Team’s “sweet 16.”

More than 20 FHS alumni and former Improv Team members will participate in a reunion show beginning at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 14, in FHS’ Ferguson Theater.

FHS theater teacher Lea McMahan said she and several alumni have been talking about having a reunion for a while.

“I thought since it is our 16th year it would be fitting to go ahead and try to do it this year,” she said.

The show will consist of alumni spanning the last 16 years.

“The current students are going to run the show; they are going to take care of all of the mechanical and technical aspects of it,” McMahan added.

“I think what we are going to do is divide the alumni into teams based on the year they graduated, and have a competition, and the audience will be the judges.”

Although there are no true improv rehearsals, most teams who work together regularly are aware of each other’s pacing and nuances. Not so this time.

Because most of the alumni will be coming from out of town and have not worked together in many years, if ever, the show will be completely improvised.

McMahan isn’t worried.

“A lot of these people who are coming back have done this for several years, and these are funny people. These are people who really like to perform,” she said.

“I am really looking forward to it and I think it is going to be a blast,” she added.

Among the alumni returning for the show are Lauren Schaefer, class of 2007, and Rusty Harding, class of 2002.

Schaefer will graduate from Indiana University this month and is involved with IU’s comedy improv group Full Frontal Comedy.

“Full Frontal Comedy is IU's longest running improvisational comedy group – now in our 16th year – and we have alumni that perform at main improv clubs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and New York,” she said.

“We perform bi-weekly shows for free for student audiences. We also teach workshops and host events for the community,” she added.

Schaefer credits her experience with the FHS team for her successes at IU.

“I got onto my college improv team due to my experience with the Farragut Improv Team, and my college team has very much shaped my college career. I love improv with my whole heart and I intend to pursue it after college as well,” she said.

“All of my passion for it stems from my time with the team at Farragut. Not to mention that it is a unique and beneficial skill to have. Every job interview I have, they always ask me about my improv experience. Due to my experience I am comfortable in large group settings, thinking on my feet, [and] presentations,” she added.

Harding left FHS to pursue his dream of theater as well, earning a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts for musical theater performance from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio, in 2006.

Harding said his experience with FHS Theater has “done a lot” for him.

“I grew up with a speech impediment, and used performance as a form of therapy. So aside from providing [me] with a solid foundation for social skills, what improv added to that was thinking on one’s feet, and allowing myself to be unafraid,” he said.

“As I went on to study theater in a conservatory atmosphere, I realized that I was one of a few students not from a performing arts high school, but we were doing work on that level in Farragut.

“And of course, the key tenants of improv remain true to life – agree and add, don't deny, keep it clean, and always try to make your partner look good,” he added.

Cost of the show will be $10 at the door.

The Improv Team’s current students also will be performing in their last show of the semester beginning at 7:30, Friday, May 13, also in Ferguson Theater. Tickets are $5 at the door.

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