Music and comedy fans rejoice! The Chicago Musical Improv Festival is returning to the city August 25th-28th, hosted by The iO Theater. This year’s festival will include local favorites such as HERE and Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane, as well as national acts Opening Night: The Improvised Musical!® and a special appearance by LOST‘s Terry O’Quinn.
I spoke with the festival’s creator and producer Stacey Smith to get more insight into the festival and I am delighted to share our conversation below.
TB: How did the Chicago Musical Improv Festival get started?
SS: After working on The Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, The Chicago Improv Festival, Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, The Teen Comedy Fest and attending over a dozen festivals as a performer – it just kind of hit me. I had the experience, I had the drive, I had the contacts and I felt like Chicago needed it. The New York Musical Improv Festival was a huge inspiration as was the opening of MCL (Chicago’s only venue dedicated solely to musical comedy).
TB: How does CMIF compare with other comedy festivals?
SS: Only being in our second year, we are much smaller than a lot of other festivals (especially in Chicago). Everything is in one space, which is really nice and convenient. We are only one of 3 musical improv festivals that we know about. Definitely the only in the Midwest, so that’s very exciting!
TB: Are there any acts that you are particularly excited about?
SS: I am so excited about everything, generally. We have some really incredible acts from all over – from a puppet musical, to an improvised concept album, to a rock opera, to a Liza Minelli inspired cabaret show, to solo shows, to an improvised musical dance troupe! We tried to really focus on variety this year. I’m always really excited about HERE (veterans Tara DeFrancisco and Rance Rizzutto). They bring such heart to their work. I’m also really excited for Matt Geiler (LA). He improvises a mini concert. His submission made us laugh so hard and his resume was super impressive. He’s toured performing musical improv with Wayne Brady, among many other cool things. We also have this group Opening Night: The Improvised Musical!® (LA) that performs at iOWest. They are our headliners! Charna forwarded their information to us and we squealed with delight! They are incredibly professional and their work has received jaw dropping reviews. We are honored to have them in our festival. Also in our festival lineup, we are hosting Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane – and he’s interviewing me! I am so nervous, excited and I’m positive I will embarrass myself. Last but not least, I am very excited for our final show of the festival. The Musical Armando (a group born from last year’s festival) is closing out the festival with Terry O’Quinn (John Locke from LOST) as our guest monologist! He’s been such a joy to be around and we are thrilled to have him be a part of our festival!
TB: Are you looking for any volunteers?
We are! You can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested!
TB: How much do tickets run for?
SS: Tickets run for $10-$14 with the option of purchasing nightly festival passes
Stacey Smith is an actress, improviser and teacher living in Chicago. She is thrilled to bring the Chicago Musical Improv Festival back for a second year with the help of Jonald Reyes (Assistant Producer), Michael Silver (Hospitality Coordinator), Sheri Flanders (Social Media) and Rence Nemeh (Marketing/Hype).
You can find out more about Stacey’s latest projects at StaceySmithComedy.com.