By Paolo Zinatelli
Work lights were suspended from the speakers. Bolts were hung on fishing wire from the ceiling. Yellow construction tape blocked off half the area and danger signs were posted around the room.
As the 18 performers took to the stage in hard hats and carrying hammers and rolls of duct tape, the POD 60 Lounge really did look like a construction site. Which was exactly the look the Oakham House Improv Society was going for.
It performed their first show of the year, “Under Construction: An Improv Show,” last Wednesday to one of its largest crowds yet. Memorable moments included a version of The Dating Show in which the “bachelors” included Dr. Evil, a toad that hovered above the stage and a contestant that was in love with the toad.
The last sketch of the night was a retelling of “Cinderella.” Performed four times in a row, the actors had 60 seconds to tell the story; then 30 seconds, then 15 and then five. This lead to the memorable line, “This is your shoe! I’m going to marry you!” Some of the performances went a little flat and weren’t as funny as they could have been and a few of the performers, who acted to the floor, kept forgetting they had an audience.
Others seemed uncomfortable on stage, and the audience could feel their awkwardness. But overall, the group was in great comedic shape and put on a great show well worth the $2 price of admission.
OHIS President Laura Salvas said she felt great about her group’s performance. “I wanted to cry with joy,” she said. “We were expecting five people. Four family members and one crazy old guy off the street.”
Salvas, a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, started OHIS last year. Having performed in improv groups back home in Kingston, she was disappointed to discover Ryerson didn’t have a group. “That saddened me greatly. I felt that there was something missing in my life,” Salvas said. So last year she started OHIS and ended up with about 50 members, she said.
This year, they’re pushing 150. “The interest has been huge this year. We have people signing up everyday,” Salvas said. The OHIS practice once a week and they began preparing for last week’s show in September. “I felt like it consumed my entire life for the past two months,” she said. “It’s scary. You don’t know what you’re doing until you’re in the middle of it.”
Nneka Elliott, a third-year Radio and Television Arts student, said she enjoyed the show and the performers’ versatility. “They’re just so flexible. They can go from being Richard Simmons to a member of RyeSAC. It’s a nice little outlet for people who have this passion,” she said.
Her friend Nic Pantaleo agreed. The first-year Journalism student liked the variety of comedy. “It hits all areas of comedic relief,” he said. Those words are what Salvas wants to hear.
“If we’re able to make something up on the spot that’s entertaining to people, you feel like you’re giving back to society,” she said.