Wants Candy, the long-running improv troupe founded in 1995 (with changing
membership over the years) specializing in improvising a complete musical
draws from a cast of more than 20 for its performances, typically with six
or seven members at each show. The strength of their shows is dependent on
the chemistry of the members present any given night, as evident at a July 1
performance at their home base of the Improv Olympic theater in Chicago.
With a promising
suggestion for a title, “Newark, Newark” (as in the musical “New York, New
York”), the group had a funny overall set of ideas, even if those didn’t
have that much to do with Newark, N.J. (other than a few cheap chemical
plant jokes). They constructed a fantastic tale of Miss Newark 1781 (played
by Mary McCain), who had been banished to the sewers only to resurface with
such glory that the Statue of Liberty snuffs out its torch and walks off.
This performance had a
bit more meandering and scenes where the performers struggled for ideas or
dialogue (when compared with the ensemble that came to New York last summer
for the Del Close Marathon -- which included Peter Gwinn, Jack McBrayer and
Robert Dassie). This performance is reviewed in Jester’s “Notes from the Del
Close Marathon” for 2005.
While the group never
accepts suggestions that are the titles of actual musicals, overall its
performances tend to hit certain notes typical of musicals, like a beginning
overture, plots that revolve around a naïve protagonist discovering a new
world, and their life-changing experiences that build over the course of the
shows to a dramatic finale.
If you aren’t a fan of
musicals, you may actually like Baby Wants Candy even more because of the
way they poke fun at the genre in every show they do. If you have no
preference or dislike for the genre, you will still enjoy what Baby Wants
Candy does for their sheer dexterity in hitting comic moments within the
framework they use.