A Report on ‘It’s A Wonderful W.I.G.’ at Arts Collective@HCC

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Howard Community College’s Arts Collective continued its spirited 21st season line-up with its second of four shows, a one-night-only holiday improv show called It’s a Wonderful W.I.G., featuring its popular troupe “What Improv Group?!?!” (W.I.G.) on Friday, December 11, at 7:30 p.m., in HCC’s Horowitz Center Studio Theatre. The show was sold out!

Audiences were invited to take a break from the season’s hustle-bustle, and join W.I.G. for jingly-jangly improv fun for all ages. And did they ever, resulting in a sold-out, howling-with-laughter house on the unseasonably warm December evening, celebrating all things holiday-related and seasonal.

Sierra Young, Noah Bird, Daniel Johnston. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography

Sierra Young, Noah Bird, Daniel Johnston. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography

The 2015-2016 cast features eleven actors who bring creative and distinct, character-driven talents to the fore, with well-timed, smart, finely drawn details including dance, movement, song, impressions, and pantomime. Kramer and Johnston’s line-up moved at a jolly pace and included extra opportunities for audience participation. An impromptu Holiday Newscast with actors Noah Bird and Daniel Johnston included a spot-on, too-funny impression of Gary Busey (Noah Bird) and on the field reports from Doug Goodin (Weather) within the confines of a mall on Black Friday, and Sierra Young (Sports) with a laser-focused play-by-play on the annual Reindeer Games (yes, the actors performed the competing reindeer to perfection).

Sierra Young, Thomas Matera. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography

Sierra Young and Thomas Matera. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography

Shannon Willing and Autumn Kramer started a scene with a simple activity suggested by the audience: “Choosing a Christmas Tree,” which evolved into a hilarious day-in-the-life of a husband (Shannon Willing) and wife (Autumn Kramer), their “catty” feline companion (Daniel Johnston) and their almost-too-real Christmas tree formed by Thomas Matera, Diego Esmolo, and Sierra Young. Children, such as seven-year old Isabella Horvath joined in the holiday improv fun as a special guest artists several times throughout the show; Isabella was featured in a scene with Diego Esmolo and Apryl Motley about a holiday dance contest and especially as Mrs. Claus, who had a line out the door of grown-ups with requests (and she delighted the audience by granting actor Scott Lichtor’s wish that the Ravens win “at least a couple games”!) One show-stopping highlight featured Douglas Beatty and a little boy, with Beatty as a first-day-on-the-job mall cop, receiving orders from the boy.

Diego Esmolo, Douglas Beatty

Diego Esmolo and Douglas Beatty. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography

Grandparents were invited to the stage and more than held their own, teaching the W.I.G. cast several kinds of holiday “how-to’s,” with hilarious results.

W.I.G.’s surprises continued to delight throughout the evening. Act One concluded by introducing the a cappella group, “Sonorous,” composed of three HCC students, Brandon Furr, Warren Harris, and Wesley LeRoux, who performed holiday songs in perfect (and fun) harmony in the lobby during intermission. Also, W.I.G.’s new book donation effort to support HCC’s Children’s Learning Center and their “Library for Little Readers” resulted in generous donations of over three dozen books; donors received free intermission treats.

W.I.G.’s previous show in September, Underground Rooftop Coffee House: Voices from the Edge, was held in the college’s Rouse Company Foundation Student Services Hall. Audiences enjoyed a sold-out show in a warm, coffee house setting complete with improv, storytelling, poetry, prose, live music, free treats and a gorgeous view. This event inaugurated a groundbreaking partnership with HCC’s creative writers and the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, HoCoPoLitSo.

No matter the season: The community is flocking to W.I.G., which, with its well-deserved reputation for excellence, delivers consistently engaging and original storytelling with warmth and a sense of improvised magic.

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The W.I.G. Cast included Douglas Beatty, Noah Bird, Diego Esmolo, Doug Goodin, Daniel Johnston, Autumn Kramer, Scott Lichtor, Thomas Matera, Apryl Motley, Shannon Willing, and Sierra Young.

It’s a Wonderful W.I.G played for one-night-only on Friday, December 11, 2015 at Arts Collective@HCC. For future events, check their website.

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UPCOMING SHOWS:

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W.I.G. – A Valentine Fit for Queens

  • Friday, February 5, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. in HCC’s Smith Theatre.
  • W.I.G. puts on its best dress and aims its heart-shaped arrow straight at your funny bone! Improv fit for Queens! Drag yourself out and join W.I.G. for a “girl’s” night in!

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W.I.G.NITION: Actors and Writers Fire It Up

  • Friday, April 8, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. in HCC’s Smith Theatre
  • Presented by AC’s “What Improv Group!?!?”, HCC’s Creative Writers, and Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo)
  • Creativity sparks in this intense collaboration among actors and writers! Don’t miss the alchemy as fire tests gold in this hot, innovative celebration of language and imagination.

LINK:
Arts Collective’s “What Improv Group?!?!” (W.I.G.) Presents ‘It’s a Wonderful W.I.G.!’ This Friday, 12/11@7:30 PM.

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