Hogwash •Improv Olympic, Del Close Theater, 3541 N. Clark St., Chicago •Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. •Tickets are $5 •(773) 880-0199 •chicago.ioimprov.com/io/shows/26
Short stuff: Out with the kids
A school. A castle. The moon. Any of these locations can serve as the setting for next week’s Hogwash show. That’s because the kids in the audience choose the location for each performance. They also costume the characters, decorate the set and throw out ideas for character names. Willing participants can even join the actors on stage.
Driven by the imaginations of the audience members, the actors from Chicago’s Improv Olympic create an hour of silly fun. They’re helped along by an improvisational pianist and two artists who create props and set pieces as the show progresses.
Since the shows are unscripted, neither the actors nor the audience knows what will happen when the show begins. The narrator asks the audience for a setting and the story takes off. At the performance my sons and I attended, the story was set in a school where a new boy had to make friends. Within minutes two “boys” were singing about riding a bike, the music and lyrics made up on the spot.
The highlight for my sons was the character of Principal Meriwether, who ranted about missing hall passes and sang a delightfully wicked song about keeping kids in detention. As he sang, the artists passed out hall passes to the kids so they could avoid detention.
By the end of the hour, a cardboard tube and posterboard bike had magically appeared and several audience members joined the cast to sing along to “Riding a bike in the hall.” It didn’t matter that no one knew the song five minutes before. Everyone had caught the Improv bug.