The son of Satan terrorizes a small town elementary school, a mad scientist takes an experimental serum and will stop at nothing to reunite with his wife lost at sea, and another mad scientist who just wishes he was a little bit taller experiments on frat boys across the street. These are just a few of the scaaaaary stories created before the the very eyes of audience member’s at PHIT Comedy’s “Stay Dead! An Improvised Horror Comedy” during its first week.
The cast is comprised of some of the most fun performers in the Philly area and includes Stay Dead! vets Andrew Coppola, Brendan Kingston, Kevin Ruth, Molly Scullion, Tom Hannigan, and Lali Gill. This year the cast welcomed fresh blood AJ DeLeon, Shannon Fahey, and Randie Welles and welcomed back Gab Bottoni who had to sit out last year’s show (presumably due to a demonic posssession). New addition, Shannon Fahey, said this about the 2016 cast, “The cast is just an amazing group of funny people that I’m excited to make people laugh with.”
Under the direction of Mike Marbach, the cast aims to weave together various horror tropes and improv concepts to create a completely original story never seen before and, like many of the characters, never to be seen again. This is Marbach’s fifth year directing a halloween show for PHIT. Previously he has directed PHIT House Team Asteroid! in “The Improvised B-Movie” which pulled from the horror/sci-fi films of the 1950’s and 1960’s to create two 25 minute shows in their “Double Feature”. Stay Dead! is not locked into any time period or sub-genre, so the field of tropes and archetypes they pull from is wide open.
Most improv shows are condensed into 25 minutes or less and are just quick glimpses of a world, which they might never return to in the show. In Stay Dead! the cast explores one world, one story, for upwards of 45 minutes. When asked how that length and a more narrative style impacts their choices Brendan Kingston says, “I think having strong narratives have given us room for these really weird, really cool scenes that have been able to breathe and be sort of naturalistic in a way that I don’t see as much in other forms. ” Tom Hannigan agrees, “I don’t know if it’s because it’s a full hour but there’s so many little moments we get to sit in and just enjoy. Like we can have long pauses on things like an empty stage where a body use to be. I don’t think that’s used much in improv. ”
Kevin Ruth says, ” I have really liked the focus on more serious scenes with comedy as an unintended result.” Marbach stresses to the cast that reacting in a realistic way should always come first. “Everyone in this cast is hiliarous, but this is an improvised horror comedy. The horror comes first. It’s ok to get crazy, but that crazy needs to be earned.” Marbach, says. Along those lines, Andrew Coppola adds, “I think we’ve emphasized strengthening our narratives this year, and I think that’s had a really positive effect on the clarity of our characters; so when Tom is a sea monster in a Starbucks toilet there’s a certain integrity to it.” Integrity indeed.
As for what they are looking forward to in final shows, Gab Bottoni says, “I’m really looking forward to executing the Stay Dead version of the perfect, sexy, bloody, teenage-heavy, stereotypical slasher. I know it’s coming. I can feel it.” It’s worth noting that everyone looks forward to killing Kevin Ruth some more.
Whether you go for the comedy or the horror or the “anything can happen” aspect of improv, Stay Dead! has you covered. Just hurry up, because there’s only a few shows left.
Stay Dead! An Improvised Horror Comedy
2030 Sansom Street
10/27 – 10/30 @ 7:30pm
10/31 @ 10:30pm
$5.00 / BYOB
Stay Dead! art by Whitney Harris.