Improv going 'Totally Tubular'

Creatures of Impulse to present series of high-energy shows

Pleasanton's teen improv troupe -- Creatures of Impulse -- continues to outdo its own performances at the Firehouse Arts Center.

Next week the award-winning troupe will deliver five lively installments of "Totally Tubular 2018," a serving of '80s-themed high-energy musical theater, all totally improvised, including the music. Audience suggestions will help create the characters, location and plot for an unscripted, interactive production.

The "Totally Tubular" cast ranges in age from 15-18. Of the 16 performers in the show, eight or nine are in any given performance, and this year the troupe has four new members.

Director Mark Duncanson noted that he himself is a child of the '80s.

"It has been so much fun talking music, fashion, movies and more from the decade," Duncanson said. "It's also pretty refreshing to see how many COI teens appreciate the music and movies of that era."

They hit upon the show's theme as they riffed on formats for this season just as last season was ending, and senior Danny Danna said, "'80s Musical?" This stopped Duncanson and assistant director Jeff Zavattero in their tracks, the director recalled.

"I called up some friends of local Bay Area improv group, 'Improvised '80s Teen Movie,' who improvise stories inspired by the tropes of John Hughes movies like 'Sixteen Candles' and 'The Breakfast Club,'" he said.

Kimberley MacLean, creator of "Improvised '80s Teen Movie," taught a masterclass at the annual retreat of Creatures of Impulse in January, complete with scene work focusing on the differences between teens now and the teens of the '80s. Duncanson said a key element that kept emerging was the lack of digital connection, which made for more in-person time, but allowed the rumor mill to function differently.

Two well-known Bay Area musicians are improvising the music for the performance: Joshua Raoul Brody, who started coaching the troupe in January at its annual improv retreat at Camp Arroyo, will play keyboards, joined by David Norfleet, one of the main movers behind the creation of Creatures of Impulse.

A preview show will be at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, for $2 cash at the door, then the musical continues at 7:30 p.m., May 17, 18 and 19, with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. May 19. Fans are welcome to see single performances, which stand well alone, or come to all four for a full-effect experience.

General admission tickets are $5 students, $10 adults, at the box office, 4444 Railroad Ave.; online at; by calling 931-4848.

Special event

To celebrate "Totally Tubular," Creatures of Impulse has rented a full-size upright '80s arcade video game for people to play during box office hours at the Firehouse Arts Center, on-site from now through May 19.

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