Insurgo Theater specializes in improv, but Marko Westwood proved on Feb. 2 that he’s not so bad at it, either. When an elderly couple that lives below Westwood had their rent money stolen, Westwood organized a last-minute benefit concert to keep the couple from being evicted.
“THANKS,” a concert featuring dancers from Westwood’s Repertory Dance Theater and performers from the Insurgo troupe, was the result. Tickets were $10 at the door and a donation box was made available on Insurgo’s homepage with the goal of collecting the $400 minimum payment.
All told, the effort was reciprocated with $820.
Considering the short notice, the cohesion in the show was impressive. Insurgo kicked in several scenes from their erotic Shakespeare rendition called “Twelfth Night,” which was a wise plug for current and upcoming shows. Other improv skits from their “Improvious Bastards” series illuminated the breadth and talent of the performers and were fantastically funny to watch.
Dance numbers made up about a quarter of the show. “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” previously performed in a show at the Onyx in January, made an appearance and featured Serena Bartholomew and Petrina Olson. Olson also performed “Gravity,” a contemporary number full of lyrical swings and falls. Marko and Megan Westwood performed “Always/again,” an amazingly poignant study in dependence and separation. “Inner Sanctum on the Outside of My Sleeve,” by Jewel Racquel, centered around a red plywood cube and concluded the show in appropriate avant garde fashion.
Mick Axelrod performed several installments of “Wordsplay,” a charismatic and literary riff on the oh-so-eloquent English language — think rap, 17th-century style. The acts were both lexically aloof and conversational, an interesting juxtaposition that made them quite enjoyable. Ava Galore’s vocals were excellent as well in “Wherever He Ain’t,” a strong character number backed by a voice that can’t be knocked. Geo Nikols lip-synced to “Billie Jean” and graciously kept the program from getting too serious.
Quirky comedy was well represented and well received. Sam Craner performed “The Date,” a skit about a man preparing a candle-lit dinner when his date cancels at the last minute. Rosalie Miletich Ellis and Dave Surrate took the cake for acts that induced a head-tip, a wrinkled brow and a laugh. “The Interview” took place between an interviewer and a potential employee, who would spontaneously switch into canine mode and bark and growl at the interviewer. The doggie-style skit was just barely on this side of palatable, which is, of course, exactly how Insurgo likes it.
So despite the short notice and the hodge-podge program, the show was a success in more ways than one. Perhaps Westwood and the Insurgo gang should produce impromptu concerts more often. They certainly have a knack for it.