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Mount Allison’s Presents: The Improv rings in the new academic year with laughter and light

Wooden booths. The smell of crafty radlers. The taste of the best chicken wings on campus. The sound of upbeat, funky music. Colourful theatre lights. New voices buzzing, and crowds of laughter. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you probably haven’t been to a legendary show put on by Presents: The Improv. 

The Mounties have returned to Sackville this year with new students, new regulations, and new experiences. One of Mt. A’s most beloved societies — Presents: The Improv — is bringing new waves of laughter and new performers to the audiences of Mount Allison University. 

The improv team will consist of 14 players, including veterans and new members. The returning members include the executive team of the society: Jay Allison, Chloé Robichaud, Alinea Turner and Quinn Waylaing. Among them are returning members Jackson Higgins, Tolkien Merrigan, and Hannah Lucas. The rest of the team members will be newcomers, and will be announced through Presents: The Improv’s social media sites. 

With her fiery red hair and show-stopping jokes, Chloé Robichaud has been leaving a trail of funny fire on the three risers that Presents has historically used as their iconic stage. Robichaud, who has been involved with the team since last year, is thrilled to bring improv back to the Pond. She was a fan of the iconic team before she became a member. 

“I went to watch their Christmas show last year and thought it looked fun,” she said. “So, I reached out to the team.”

She, alongside the rest of the returning members of the improv team, recently held their tryouts in the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts. Now, with a complete team due to be presented soon, she is excited to take the stage with old and new friends. 

With his sharp wit, expressive voice and unforgettable characters, Tolkien Merrigan has been taking the crowds by storm since he started his time with the team. Merrigan became involved with the team in the 2021-2022 school year as well. Merrigan was encouraged by a beloved former executive member to try out for the team. 

“One of the former members talked me into auditioning!” He said. “She also almost forgot to tell me when the auditions were, but I still made it.”

This year, the two improv teams will each perform a half-hour long show, with a brief intermission in between. Typically there are drink specials, and the crowds are buzzing with a wicked sense of good energy. Entry is pay-what-you-can, and the shows happen every week during the semester except for reading week. A percentage of the money that is given for entry is donated to a new charity each show, giving the gift of laughter back to the community in more ways than one. 

Typically, the team’s shows are short-form comedy, with multiple comedic approaches from the actors coming together to create a perfect mish-mash of weirdness and genius. If you’re coming to a Presents show expecting something boring and typical, you’re in for a surprise: the team is authentically weird, and extremely proud of it. 

“Take your mind off what’s happening in your life and laugh at some weird people making a fool of themselves for your entertainment,” said Merrigan. 

The team hosts multiple special events throughout the year. This year, they plan to have their annual improvised musical in the fall semester, and at another show that has yet to be determined, they are going to have their annual improvised murder-mystery show. 

The team members are not just low-commitment comedians. Each team meets for at least one rehearsal before each show. Dedicating hours of their busy weeks to the love of theatre sport, the thespians on Presents are committed to bringing joy to the community of Sackville each week. They dedicate themselves to the craft not just because they love it, but for the community as well. In these uncertain and uncomfortable times, the team wants to bring a smile to the faces of Mount Allison. 

“You should come out and support improv because it can give you a little break from the stress of university,” said Robichaud. “You can come alone or with friends and just sit back and, hopefully, laugh!”

When asked about why people should support the team, Merrigan’s answer was simple: laughing for laughing’s sake.

“People should come out because it’s good entertainment, and it’s all in the spirit of having a good time,” Merrigan said. 

Presents: The Improv begins their weekly Wednesday performances on September 28 at the Pond. Doors open at 9:00 PM, show starts at 9:30 PM. You can find them on Facebook at Presents: The Improv, and on Instagram under the handle @mtapresents.

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