The Not PC Players will make their debut Wednesday
May 22, 2015
There’s a new improvisational theater company in town and they’re proud of their Park City roots, regardless of the name, Not PC Players.
"Our catch line is ‘We’re from PC, but not PC,’" said co-founder Nate Sears during a group interview with The Park Record at O.P. Rockwell Wednesday night. "This way, you know what you’re going to get."
Not PC Players will make their debut at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main St., on Wednesday, May 27, at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.
The cast features co-founders Sears, Tom Shannon, Nicole Marcks, John Burdick, Katrina Kmak and pianist Nathan Innis.
The production, which is geared for audience members ages 21 and older, will feature an array of improvisational comedy including skits, games, audience participation and theater.
"We may even bust out in songs and dances," Kmak said.
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"We’d better," quipped Innis.
The idea for the Not PC Players has been bouncing around in Burdick’s head for years.
"It’s been a dream for all of ours to bring improvisational theater to Park City," said Burdick, whom a long with Kmak is known for their work in the Park City Follies. "I moved here from Chicago in 2002 and did a game-format improv group called Off the Top, which became Improvabilities. That’s where I met Nate, and we talked about getting a theater here in town.
"I’m a huge fan of Second City in Chicago and used to sneak in and watch improv sets with Chris Farley and Tim Meadows," he said. "I wanted to bring that style of theater, more of a non-game, improvisational-play format, to Park City."
Sears had worked with Walt Disney World and Nickelodeon, and made his living as an actor before moving to Park City for the Winter Olympics.
"I was born a brain surgeon and acrobat, but gave that up when I was 4," Sears deadpanned. "I have a degree in theater from Baldwin Wallace University, a small arts school near Cleveland, Ohio. When I moved to Park City, I met John and the Off the Top gang here. John and I performed up and down Main Street in venues that graciously opened their doors to us."
Unfortunately, those venues weren’t always the best settings.
"The reason was if you’re a musician in a restaurant, it’s almost always expected that the music would be played in the background, whereas theater needs a captive audience," Sears said. "So we have been looking for a place to call home."
Shannon and Marcks hooked up with Burdick and Sears three years ago.
"He was on my Fun Friday show on KPCW trying to get players and it was a natural fit for me," Burdick said.
"I first stated doing improv in 1999 at iO West [formerly known as improvOlympic] and after that I went to Second City," Shannon said. "From there I joined BANG, which was formed by a couple of graduates from Second City."
Unlike iO West and Second City, where everyone acted, BANG’s cast was comprised of a construction worker, a dentist and a physicist.
"So the scenes were a little more rich because they weren’t all just audition scenes by actors who wanted to get on ‘Saturday Night Live,’" Shannon said.
Marcks cut her improv teeth with the Groundlings, a world-renowned Los Angeles-based improvisation company.
"I then became an actor and went to Juilliard," she said. "When I discovered improv it was like discovering my birth mother, because this was an art form that I could completely be anybody. It was freeing for me and it was a natural fit to find an improv company as soon as we moved here three years ago."
Sears introduced the couple to Burdick and Jack Diamond, who was in another improv group called Hot Toddy.
"Hot Toddy still exists and we’ve performed a couple of times at the Egyptian Theatre, but perform more in Salt Lake City," Marcks said. "That’s why we are still so hungry to do something here in Park City."
Like the others, Kmak has extensive theater experience, but, unlike the others, she didn’t do improv.
"I received a degree in music at the University of Wisconsin and played oboe, sang and played drums," she said. "I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but did a [theater] audition and started working from there. Before I moved to Park City three years ago, I traveled around doing regional theater."
Improv entered Kmak’s life via a murder-mystery theater in Pennsylvania.
"While it was scripted, it also heavily relied on improvisation, and that’s where I got my chops," she said.
Kmak moved to Park City to take a break from theater and worked with kids at one of the resorts.
"I started to miss theater and worked in the Follies where I met John and then met Tom and Nicole and started working with them," she said. "It’s like theater always comes back to find you."
Rounding out the cast is Innis, who was born and raised in Park City.
The pianist played music throughout high school and recently recorded a CD with Cody McKinnon, called "Here to Stay" under the band name Sway.
"I did a little bit of drama in high school and did a murder mystery in college," Innis said. "I met Nate at the Viking Yurt up at Park City Mountain Resort. I played there for two seasons."
"He was the pianist and I was the Viking," Sears interjected.
"It was a great arrangement," Innis said without missing a beat. "Nate told me about this group. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this, and it’s great to be a character through music."
The Not PC Players discovered the O.P. Rockwell stage through Burdick, although he and Sears were familiar with the venue when it was known as Plan B in the 1990s.
"I got involved with O.P. Rockwell through Scott Thomson [who oversees the venue’s special events]," Burdick said. "I’ve known him for a number of years and came here to see a band here."
When Burdick saw the stage, the wheels in his head began turning.
"I immediately wanted to be up there to make people laugh," he said. "The stars aligned. Scott was open to it and here we go."
Tickets for Wednesday night’s show are $10 at the door, but audience members have another option.
"There’s a flat admission fee for $10, or you can chose to roll three dice, and whatever you roll is what you’ll pay," Sears said. "So, we’re saying, ‘Give us 10 or take the dice. It could be bad. It could be nice.’ It could be as low as $3 or as much as $18. But it’s your choice."
"However, you will get at least $20 worth of comedy," Burdick promised.
The Not PC Players have planned a summer schedule and will perform every other Wednesday at O.P. Rockwell, 268 Main St., at 9 p.m., beginning May 27. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, visit http://www.oprockwell.com .
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