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Junior Varsity

Two new long-form improv groups have some work to do, but they are beginning to jell.

Since a previous performance about one month ago, 10-member improv group Varsity, which includes several UCB class alumni, has begun to jell and it shows.

Various members of the group were quick to step right in to illustrate a tableau of photos taken from a girl’s freshman year at college, segueing deftly ahead to Thanksgiving, when the abusive boyfriend (played by Mike Knight) joins the girl (Jessie Spellmann) at her family’s house for dinner and proceeds to dominate everyone.

In their September 28 show, also at Caroline’s on Broadway, Varsity still seemed to be working off formats taught in classes, but one part of their performance showed their ability, and this was a group scene of soldiers boasting about themselves in cadence, which they later reprised only as beauty pageant contestants.

America, on the other hand, some of whose members have been at this a little longer than most of Varsity, seemed to have trouble connecting. It was their first show with the complete group together in four months, on the occasion of group member Will McLaughlin about to leave for L.A. In the show, Eddie Dunn flailed away at a Frankenstein impression that kept going even after his jokes had run their course. The missing connections became obvious when Charlie Sanders (also of the Shoves) entered, playing a secretary and Eli Newell, playing an obnoxious groper, failed to notice her presence as a new likely target for him.

Another scene that grew out of one of the monologues presented in this improv performance about bringing presents -- appropriate or not and expensive or not -- for a girlfriend’s parents seemed to wander off course. The members of America may have lost inspiration on where to take it, or maybe weren’t listening well enough to each other to keep it going.











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