Have I told you about the Empire Revue? No? Please allow me to do so.
After taking my Level 1 Improv class at the Providence Improv Guild I began hanging out with more of the regulars at shows and bars around Providence. Stuart Wilson, my teacher and now friend (who you should check out on his cross country one man tour!) highly recommended I check out a variety show he was in called the Empire Revue. He thought I would really enjoy it. I had seen a few clips with Stu online but I didn’t grasp the whole concept from the older years YouTube clips. (I didn’t know which ones to watch and such, now I’ve started my own favorite’s playlist which you are welcome to enjoy after you finish reading this blog.)
Once night I was able to only make the last 15 minutes of a show finally. It was June 2015 and the Crime and Punishment show. I walked into the back of AS220 in time to see a half dressed Stu tied to a pole on stage. It’s better if you just watch it. (Happily enough, each show is available on YouTube after the fact but I swear it’s more fun in person.)
Alright that was interesting. I don’t recommend coming in at the end of the show but I still need to be accurate in my recount. The next number was this:
Wait……what?!?! This was amazing. My brain swirled. What was this place? This show? I knew many of the faces on stage but there was something amazing happening here. I needed to investigate further. The next show would be the 9th Anniversary show. I had a flyer. I set the date on my calendar and I was ready.
Surprisingly a day or two later, I was asked if I would hula hoop with my LED hoop at the end of the show. Wait……what?!?! This is a joke, right? You want me to be a part of something I haven’t even seen in completion yet? I said “YES!” because seriously, I’m not an idiot.
The day arrived and I dressed in my unicorn finest. I got to go back stage! If you know me, you know I love the behind the scenes of anything. I am a stage manager and crew member at heart so getting to go down below and see everyone getting ready was fun. I stashed my hoop safely away and was able to hang out with friends at the bar of AS220 before getting a good seat. The show started and I was told which scene to leave during in order to prepare for my part.
For the next 40 minutes, I sat there in shock and amazement as every scene was a hit. I wanted to cry from happiness, I definitely had watery eyes. I could not believe that something like this existed. What is this…this amazing thing that I couldn’t believe existed. It’s a variety show but that doesn’t explain it. It’s a completely original thematic comedy variety show with a band, sketch, burlesque, singer songwriters, stand up and so much more. There is no way to possibly describe it to help you understand other than GOING AND SEEING IT FOR YOURSELF. Shows are the first Sunday of every month at AS220 at 8pm. It was a truly spiritual experience for me because I had found the light in the world that I was seeking. A place where people work together to be happy, have fun, and share that with everyone else. If you don’t laugh at this show, then you are hopeless or just no fun.
I was upset I had to leave during a scene to get my hoop and help out with the ending but I got over it once I saw Bettysouix Taylor crossing the street dressed as a Vegas Show Girl. (I am further investigating her burlesque academy so just wait for me to write about that!) These were my weird, colorful, fun people and I fit right in with my unicorn rainbow hula hooping attitude. YAS!
After the show I talked to lots of people, some I knew, some I just met and now know better. One of those people was Keith Munslow. Keith is a story teller, musician, and artist. He is the director of the Empire Revue but he’s also it’s father. The way in which he cares for his performers, hosts, and leads the band is truly a magical experience. His passion for music, comedy, and life is evident in his work whether he is drawing and singing for kids or helping adults relax and have fun with The Superchief Trio (who are also the in-house band of the Empire Revue).
I was honored to be able to meet him and chat with him. Sharing with him my willingness to cry from happiness and that he had acquired a new devote follower of the Church of Comedy he has established at the Empire Revue 9 years ago. (To think that there are 9 years of original material that I’ve missed breaks my heart but there are videos going back to 2008. So the past 7 years are available!)
Aside from my obvious fan girling, I genuinely recommend this show to anyone I talk to. Since July, I have attended every show possible, work is the only thing that prevents me from attending this monthly shindig.
Now I would be remissed if I did not spend some time talking about the other wonderful people in this show. Please pardon me if I don’t specifically call you out but allow me to highlight a few things:
The cast of the Empire Revue are called the “Sparkling Beatniks”. (Jax loves sparkle…in case you forgot.) The cast is ever changing as people come and go and guests are added regularly. One of the beatniks who I had the pleasure of working with previously is Nicky Mariani. Nicky and I had worked together on “The Dean at the Dean” with Stu. Nicky was the Dean while I was the bar manager. I loved my time working with Nicky but it wasn’t until I saw her at home as the Stage Manager and muscle of the Empire Revue that I fell in love with the superhero that she is. Nicky is a strong woman after my own heart and a wonderful role model and friend. This opening to the July show perfectly encapsulates her role. (It was originally performed Nov 2014 as the 9th Anniversary was a hit list show for them.)
The rest of the beatniks each add a different flair and range to the show. I’m shocked that Sam Bell is only 17. Bridget Brewer is new but soooooo good and modest/humbling/wonderful. She was supposed to be in “The Dean at the Dean” with Nicky and I but wasn’t able to due to schedule conflicts. Alan Sousa, Jake Goldman, and Eric Fulford I sort of knew from PIG but this show gave them a place to shine. Kelly Seigh has an amazing voice and presence. Show after show, I get to see these amazing performers do new things and change their characters from scene to scene. It truly is a beautiful thing.
So even when they are kicking you out of the theater with their catchy outro song, it’s done with fun, cheer, and excitement for the next show. All you have to do is see it now. The next show is “Winter: The Musical” which means ALL MUSIC! The past few shows have been creative attire encouraged with a sleepover and black tie theme, so I can’t wait to see what fancy threads you all show up with. I will be there with snowflakes on!
My life to update those who are still reading is that I’ve moved to S. Attleboro and am still unpacking. My panel for Rhode Island Comic Con is on Saturday which I will blog about soon. I’m excited to refocus my efforts in comedy, marketing/promotion, and sewing as I setup shop in my new location. Expect more fun and thanks for reading.