Dave Pasquesi and I have been friends since the first night he walked into one of Del Close’s improv classes at Crosscurrents in Chicago, and I (filling in for the absent Charna Halpern) shook him down for payment for his first series of classes.
I can (and probably will) write several lengthy blogs involving David and I, but the most pertinent information is this: Dave is still improvising, and, unlike so many others, has never really stopped improvising after all these years. A few years back, he started working with TJ Jagodowski at the iO Chicago, and in the subsequent years, TJ and Dave have become improvisation icons.
But that wasn’t enough for them. When Charna announced that she would be opening a brand new theatre building, with four theatres and a numerous classrooms, Dave and TJ told her “Excuse us, but we’d like one of those.” And that’s how the Mission Theatre came to be. It’s part of the new iO Chicago at 1501 N. Kingsbury in Chicago, but it’s separate, because it belongs to Dave and TJ. They will continue their TJ and Dave shows there most Wednesday nights, but will use the other time slots for a new sketch comedy show with a talented bunch of actors.
Saturday night was the opening night for the Trap (which is what it’s called, for reasons that will be revealed when you see the show). It is very funny. I sat with my old friend Leo Benvenutti, and after the first few sketches, I noted “They’re not really going very dark, are they?” I needn’t have worried. There is plenty of darkness, enough to please Del himself, along with some terrific acting and directing, and the audience loved it as much as I did.
Afterward, I had the chance to catch up for the first time in a long while with my old pals Frances and John Judd, Meg and Pete Burns, Jeff Michaelski, Diane Alexander, and many others, including, of course, Michael McCarthy, Charna Halpern, and Noah Gregoropolis.
The Trap is just the first show to officially open at the new iO (forget the label on the photo–the future is here!), and they have set the bar high; if the others come anywhere close, it’s going to be a spectacular success. See you there.