By Michelle Scott
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical will be stopping in East Lansing at Wharton Center for Performing Arts on January 29. Something unique about this show: every performance is different! Beginning with suggestions from the audience, this cast of masterful improvisers creates a spontaneous evening of music and laughter.
Annie Schiffmann, cast member and seen in the blue dress below, has the inside scoop and has hints of something to look for during the show.
You haven’t seen Broadway’s Next Hit Musical yet because we haven’t done our show at the Wharton Center yet. But when you do you’re going to have some questions. So I figured I’d answer them for you.
I’m Annie Schiffmann. I’ve been performing with BwaysNHM for over three years now. And I’m going to share with you a little secret that we professional improvisers do every time we’re onstage and how it can benefit you in your life.
First, though, let me explain our show.
When you come to Broadway’s Next you fill out a slip of paper and make up a song title. It can be crazy, it can be boring, whatever. But it’s just got to come from you – no pre-written song titles (and, yes, that includes “Baby Got Back.”)
Then your song title and everyone else’s song title is put into a fishbowl.
The lights go down and an emcee will introduce himself, the show, and the nominees just like any host at any awards show. He says how the songs are all nominated for the coveted Broadway’s Next Hit Musical Award.
Each actor pulls a song title (maybe yours?) from out of the fishbowl and then creates a song out of thin air. This happens with all four nominees until it’s time for the you and everyone in the audience to vote for a favorite. We then bring you the musical that wins.
Okay, knowing that, here are the questions you and your friends will want to ask us after the show. Feel free to do so, but to save time, I have answered them for you.
So, that was all made up?
Yes and it’s different every time we perform.
All of it?
Yes and what you saw tonight in our show won’t happen again. We promise.
What about the music? Is that made up?
Yes and we’ve been doing it for years which is why it is so seamless. Many of us have been working with one another for over ten years!
So you don’t reuse melodies or lyrics?
Yes and if we DID reuse them it’d probably be harder to make up the songs. Maybe not. But we like what we do and so does our audience. So we’ll just keep it the way it is.
Do you rehearse?
Yes and every Tuesday we go through exercises and run thrus like a sports team running drills and scrimmages.
So how can you all be on the same page when you don’t have any time to discuss what you’re doing?
When you see Broadway’s Next Hit Musical pay attention to one small detail – “yes and.” Whenever one actor offers to go somewhere the second actor will always say yes. Then, the second actor will add something on to it. THAT’S how we build scenes. We don’t take time to make it perfect; we don’t discuss it, we just accept, add value, and move on.
Now, here’s a crazy experiment – after you read this, after you see Broadway’s Next Hit Musical, try it in your life. What happens if you start agreeing with what other people are saying? How does that feel? What if you made sure that you didn’t just agree, but that you put in your two cents?
How would that change your day to day?
Leave us a comment here or @bwaysnhm on Twitter. We would love to hear how yes and changes your day.
In addition, here are some one-liners from the rest of the cast about what they are looking forward to doing in East Lansing!
“Visiting Draymond Green’s old locker.”
– Marc T. Engberg (emcee) (Twitter: @marctengberg; Instagram: @marctengberg)
“Celebrating their win over U of M! And wearing lots of green and white. And visiting my sister’s old dorm.”
– Katie Hammond (cast member) (Twitter: @katiejhammond; Instagram katiejane_days)
“Visiting my friend Matt Hubbard’s family and checking out Grand River Ave!!!”
– Rob Schiffmann (cast member) (Twitter: @RobSchiffmann; Instagram: joniblue1970)
“I’m looking forward to trying out a burger from Crunchy’s and am crossing my fingers that Tom Izzo will sing a song with me on the fly!”
– Daniel Tepper (cast member) (Twitter: @DanielisTepper; Instagram: tanieldepper)