Off-key Improv is on its way to New York before returning to Vancouver's Pacific Theatre
Off-key Improv is on its way to New York before returning to Vancouver's Pacific Theatre

After successful runs at the rEvolver Festival in May and more recently at the Vancouver Improv Festival, Off-Key Improv, Vancouver’s biggest musical improv group, is on its way to the New York Musical Improv Festival (NYMIF) before returning to take up residence at Pacific Theatre for Sideshow.

[pullquote]Started in a now defunct theatre in Port Coquitlam, Off-Key has utilized every available space to grow and improve as artists. From rehearsing in basements and elementary school classrooms, to launching an overwhelmingly successful crowd-funding campaign to help them get to New York, Off-Key have proven that tenacity and hard work truly pays off.[/pullquote]“It’s crazy” says Jennifer Pielak, director of Off-Key. “We applied [to the festival] last summer, just to get on their radar, and were really surprised when we got in”.

Now in its sixth year, the New York Musical Improv Festival (NYMIF) is headlined by some of the biggest names in improv, from Baby Wants Candy to The Armando Diaz experience, Chicago’s longest running comedy show. “It’s intimidating, but exciting at the same time.” says Pielak.

While the local improv scene has seen major growth over the past few years, musical improv is still in its infancy. With only three groups active in Vancouver, Off-Key is thrilled at the opportunity to be invited to perform at NYMIF.

“New York is way ahead of us. The Magnet Theatre, home to the festival, has seven house musical improv teams. Just the theatre has seven. That’s insane, by comparison. So for us to be able to see what they’re doing, and get some ideas is just massive.”

Started in a now defunct theatre in Port Coquitlam, Off-Key has utilized every available space to grow and improve as artists. From rehearsing in basements and elementary school classrooms, to launching an overwhelmingly successful crowd-funding campaign to help them get to New York, Off-Key have proven that tenacity and hard work can pay off.

“It’s overwhelmingly awesome. Just the support we’ve had from our family, friends, and the local community. They really just want to see us go there and expand as artists,” says Pielak.

On their return to Vancouver Off-Key will take on Sideshow at Pacific Theatre. Traditionally a one-off weekend event, it has expanded to include five shows over the course of that company’s theatre season.

“Pacific Theatre has been so supportive,” says Pielak. “They were changing up their season and were wondering what to do with Sideshow. They wanted to change how it was done. So we pitched the idea of having Off-Key come in and do some musical improv and they absolutely loved it.”

Fresh off their performances in New York, there will no doubt be some new skills on display at Sideshow, as Off-Key performs 90 minute set of musically twisted improv games, before launching into a full blown improvised musical based on audience suggestions.

“It’s going to be a super fun. An off-beat and high energy show that will just add to the dynamic of the season at Pacific Theatre.”

Sideshow opens at Pacific Theatre (1440 West 12th Ave) Oct.21 and will return Dec. 7, Jan 20, Mar.10, and May 5. Visit http://pacifictheatre.org for tickets and information.

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