It Was . . . Well . . .GRAND!

The Grand Opening of the Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation and Gnap! Theater Projects Improv Season was this past Friday night. And it exceeded my expectations in almost every way.

It’s been a lot of work, a lot of meetings, a lot of planning, a lot of rehearsing, a lot of running around town, and a lot of promotions. But it all seemed to pay off on Friday.

I was running around all day getting ready for the event, so I was worried I would not be able to get out of “producer mode” and be able to have fun. But once I started to greet all the people in the gallery picking up their tickets for an almost sold out show, I began to relax and let the nervousness turn to excitement. And there were so many great volunteers, McGill on lights, Suzannah in the box office, my husband on sound, family on party duty, I was able to focus on my job–rocking the improv stage.

At our curtain speech we got to announce all our plans for the future of Merlin Works and Gnap! We thanked all the people that were helping us and brought out Parallelogramaphonagraph to open up the show. Then Get Up followed them with a strong set.

Our suggestion was USO Dance and we got to do a World War II themed show. Shannon was Jim Clark, a young recruit from Iowa shipping off in a few days. I was Fontaine, a half American-half French woman in a red Satin dress that he met at the dance. I gave him the silk flower in my hair and asked him to kill some Nazis, throw some of the petals of the flower on their dead bodies, and then return to me with the flower. Then we followed Jim on the transport ship on it’s way to England, where he befriended another private, Drake, a talkative chap from Tennessee. A deck below we met the men who made up the USO band, heading over to entertain the troupes. Back home Fontaine was fighting off the advances of a Russian spy named Gregor. Then the ship came under attack by German Uboats and the pilot had to steer out of trouble. “When life gives you lemons, you make Nazi stew.” And he steered the boat all the way to Normandy! This surprise landing in Normandy require all the men on the ship–event the band–to take up arms and fight the Nazi’s. Their battle was successful and led to a new spirit of integration in the Army and America. Jim Clark returned to Fontaine at the end, flower in hand, in an All-American ending.

Afterwards the party was great. More people kept showing up. The dance floor got filled up. Food was eaten, drinks were drunk, and we even had a Champagne toast. Everyone was having a great time and there was a great spirit in the air. I heard the story that one friend was trying to get a ride to meet up with her boyfriend (she had come on her bike) but couldn’t get anyone to leave the party and take her home. That’s always a good sign. Plus, during the party, I had two more people sign up for Improv 101 class!

By the end of the night, I was happy, relieved and exhausted. The classes are almost full and I’m looking forward to teaching a whole new crop of improvisers.

Here’s the first picture I’ve gotten from the show.

Check out more Get Up show photos at
and here

And Grand Opening Party Pics at

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About Shana Merlin

Merlin Works is the brainchild of Shana Merlin: improviser, teacher, and performer. Since 1996, she’s been leading classes that stretch people’s imaginations, push them out of their comfort zones, and make them laugh out loud for hours at a time.

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