Just found that this has been set to 'draft' status since January 30th. ImprovBoston is moved into their new space--which is AWESOME. But the old space was home in many ways to me for many years, and that's why I wrote this post back in January, around the time that the old location was turning off the lights for the last time.
I was 23 years old and living at my Dad's house in Wakefield when I first stepped into the Back Alley Theater in Inman Square. ImprovBoston didn't control it then, though they played there a lot; I think they were still doing a regular gig at Joe Tecce's at the time. I didn't know from ImprovBoston. Truthfully, I didn't know from improv. I'd seen "Whose Line Is It Anyway" (UK version), and felt a kinship with Mike McShane because we were both large men and he was just so damned funny, and got to sing songs and have minor love scenes with Josie Lawrence which seemed like a great way to spend your time. And then I saw an ad in the Boston Phoenix. An improv troupe in Boston was holding auditions. So I figured, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" and called the number. Then on a fateful night in 1992, I went to the audition.
That audition was my first introduction to many touchstones of the last fifteen years of my life. Naturally, it was held at 50 Vassar Street. (This will mean everything to Boston-area improv people and nothing to almost everyone else.) And much to my astonishment, I was cast. (Thank you, Renegade Duck!) I went to my first improv show a week later. Renegade Duck was performing in what was then a comedy club in the bottom of the Charles Playhouse (current home of Blue Man Group.)
Three months later, if that, I performed with the ImprovBoston mainstage cast at an outgig at a high school auditorium. I had no business being on that stage-- the cast included Adam Felber, Ron Jones, Nancy (Howland) Walker and Larry Pizza... and me. With ninety days of experience, and maybe one show under my belt, I was playing with the big kids. I don't think I'd even performed with Renegade Duck onstage at that point in my improv life.
Within a year ImprovBoston had the lease on the Back Alley Theater. I remember very small houses. I remember when the Abbey was the dive-iest of dive bars, and what's now the hip rock room was the place where the IB cast would go to drink and avoid the regulars. I remember when Christina's opened and having conversations with Ray, the guy from Liverpool who owned the place, wherein I learned for the first time what Khulfi was (rosewater & pistachio ice cream, with a hint of cardamom) and why it was named Christina's (his wife's name). I remember when there was still Jake & Earl's (and I still ate meat, so it was a fantastic combination) and when the Druid opened, and the Soho Bistro, and when it was Sandy & Son instead of Stellabella, and... I am old, people.
I remember Picture This shows (a troupe that was three people, then five people, then three people again, and in the last incarnation I was one of them along with Nancy Walker and a guy named Steve LaBollita) that included short movies, including a showing of something called "Frankenstein and the Planet of the Monsters" that a fellow Renegade Duck was in... it was horrible.
The guy who directed it went on to be the guy who directed "The Darien Gap" and "Next Stop Wonderland".
I left Renegade Duck. I took a break. I joined TheaterSports at ImprovBoston, played there for maybe five years. I bought a house. I got married. I was lucky enough to be present for the birth of what we eventually came to know as Musical Improv Company. I was fantastically lucky enough to have three amazing children. I directed shows. I had major abdominal surgery. I co-directed TheaterSports. I had a major hospitalization. I woke up one day and found that I was one of the old guard now.
I was 38 years old and living in my own house in Wakefield when I last stepped into ImprovBoston's theater. It's time to move, I know that, but God, that little space holds so much of my life within its walls. And I'm really going to miss it.