Musical Improv with Andel Sudik

ColdTowne is thrilled to present a musical improv workshop taught by one of the acknowledged masters of the form.

Anděl Sudik was born and raised in Santa Clarita, California and spent her winters and summers on her family’s farm in Nebraska near Wahoo, before moving to Chicago right after high school.

Sudik has performed all over the US with The Second City Touring Company and all over Europe with Boom Chicago and was a member of the legendary ensembles Baby Wants Candy and The Deltones and comes to Austin October 22nd!

We had the opportunity to chat with Sudik in advance of her visit.

Hey! What brings you to Austin? I came to Austin for the first time for OoB two years ago and died from joy. The weather was fuxking gross, so I knew it was true love. I also got to see one of my oldest friends who lives in Austin now, and I realized that if I was ever going to do cool stuff like catch up with my friends and visit cool places, I would have to do that for myself. So I booked the flight and then figured the rest out.

You spent a few years in Amsterdam at Boom Chicago. What was that experience like? Boom was the most amazing and hardest experience of my life. I moved there when I was 24 and had never even been out of the country before. I got to travel to places I had only ever dreamt of, give my family a reason to visit Europe, all while living in a town that looks like a story book and drinking and doing drugs as though I was a 300 pound man (Which is kind of how I see myself, comedically).

European audiences are awesome. They like to heckle (esp. British ones, who will also tell you how they don’t find “American humor” funny), and they find it equally enjoyable for you to shut them down. It’s like an acceptable game you play and very freeing as a performer. You learn how to take care of yourself, while also getting laughs. Pop culture doesn’t fly out there, which is great for me because I have no retention of that sort of info.

We got to play big and bold and wear a lot of wigs, so I was basically in heaven. Though there’s a decent amount of culture shock. There’s a thing called “Dutch honesty,” which is basically like talking to a kind of shitty 9 year old: you are delighted that they don’t have a filter and still occasionally hurt by “truths” they so freely spout. One of favorites was a guy on his way out of the theater upon seeing me, declared, “Oh hey! You are just like a person but smaller.” So that was pretty in line with the typical show non-compliments you’d get (and one of the tamer things said to me as a woman).

I found it more challenging as a single straight woman both within the Boom Culture and also in Amsterdam in general. I think the experience helped to harden me in a way that forced me to protect myself too hard and too aggressively after I left, but I found similar battles as a woman in the stateside theaters I’ve worked in. Which is part of why I started directing and teaching more. But the experience was well worth it, the people I got to know and the friends I made and worked with are family.

You’ve also toured a lot with the Second City. Any fun stories? I love getting paid to go places I would never choose to go on my own (Eureka Springs, Arkansas anyone?) After touring, I got to do some theatrical gigs which were city specific shows, so you’d settle in a city for a month or two and live like a local, and I just thought that was the best.

I loved Cincinnati and La Jolla equally. Tucson was a dream (except for the meth and occasionally getting bottles thrown at me on my walk home). I fucking LOATHED Phoenix (except the place we were living was called Zazu Pannee and there was a gay bar called Plasma ATTACHED to it which was so wonderful).

I also worked on cruise ships on and off for a thousand years. I loved the safety of having a reason to talk to a bunch of people from a bunch of places (they saw me onstage) and also knowing that they would all be gone after a week, so no pressure. I love performing for people.

On one of my very first tours with Second City (I was like 20), at the very end of the show we were playing freeze, and I was an oscar statue and the gal tipped me back and forth and let me go and I fell, landing straight onto my face. Everybody gasped, so I – with my head trauma logic – thought “I better laugh to let them know I’m ok.” So I did, then one of the cast members asked  “Are you ok?” I lifted my head, and as I did, said “I’m bleeding. From my face.”

The lights went out, I was rushed off stage, the lights came back up on Ithamar Enriquez who said “Good night Dubuque!” and waved to stunned silence. There was a doctor in the house who came back and checked me out as I sat in front of the mirror looking at the gaping hole in my forehead and apologizing profusely for ruining the show, sure that I would be fired. Instead, I was taken to a plastic surgeon who sewed it all up, and I had an e-mail sent the the producers from an audience member framed that read “It really was a shame because up to that point it was such a great show. I hope the young lady is alright.”

You’ve been part of some legendary musical improv groups, including Baby Wants Candy and the Deltones. What are the unique challenges to doing musical improv? Can any improviser learn how to do it, or does it take a special skill set? Confidence and commitment. Some of my favorite musical improvisers are not technically trained. The more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more fun you let it be. When you’re first learning (like any skill) there are some mechanics that make it easier, but the trick is getting to know that stuff internally so you don’t have to think about it. Thinking is the enemy of improv, if you ask me.

What are you looking forward to in the next year, career-wise? I feel like, for myself, the election paralysis just wore off, so I resurfaced as a creative body in the last couple months. I’m starting/picking up work on some of my own projects (writing a farce, directing Man of La Mancha, working the structure of a solo improv piece, doing Stand Up) and becoming re-inspired to be a bit more proactive in fostering comedic POV in the unbelievably talented comedy community in Chicago (workshops, putting up a sketch show with the most talented people I can get my hands on).

I just got back from John Waters Sleep Away camp. (Yes. It was a thing. And Yes. It was spectacular.) And I watched his movie Female Trouble which was too subversive for me when I first saw it in HS (my delicate suburban sensibilities could only handle Crybaby), but this time I was ready. And damn, he nailed it. It inspired me to push farther, and make a little trouble.

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Heavy Metal Drummer: Michael Dolan of Rezuranger

Michael Dolan is a Level 2 student at ColdTowne and currently featured in our MainStage show, Rezuranger. He shared with us how he happened into classes, and–eventually–his role in our Saturday MainStage production.

On July 22, 2016 I visited ColdTowne Theater to see my friend, Lisa Williams (Family Meeting), perform with her troupe The High Five at a CageMatch (now Throwdowne) show vs. Rezurangur. That was the first time I got to see Chris Baldenhofer and Delaney Jo Hernandez perform. I was so impressed that night by Chris and Delaney to make two person scenes much fun! I didn’t realize it then, but Delaney and I had actually been camp counselors in 2008 for a youth retreat, and it was awesome to reconnect with her. I also remember thinking Kevin killed it that night during the performance with The High Five.

That show made me realize I wanted to do improv and couldn’t keep putting it off. I was still unsure about signing up for classes. I remember the two reasons I went ahead and did it: 1) I met Michael Jastroch during the 10 year anniversary weekend and remember thinking he was super witty and his characters were amazing. He’s a great teacher. 2) Kara King told me I wasn’t that funny in the ping pong/domino room at the Grand, so I had to prove her wrong. I signed up for Level 1 in the Fall 2016 class start.

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Dolan in Rezurangur press photo.

Towards the end of my Level 1 class, I saw that Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee was looking for improvers and musicians with a specific request for a good drummer. It was the perfect show for me since I’ve been a drummer for almost twenty years and played in a metal band called Uglytwin for almost 3 years. I knew it was my destiny.

After a very nerve-wracking audition with Kristin Henn and company, I was very unsure about getting into the show because I didn’t talk much during my multiple person scenes. Like everyone, I’m my own worst critic. On top of that, I saw a ton of excellent performers at that audition.

About a week later I remember getting the e-mail from Kristin announcing that I had been cast for the show. I was so ecstatic that I immediately started to send friend requests to every member of the show on Facebook, just to see who all was in the show with me. When I saw Chris, Delaney and Kevin, I was super excited to work with all of them, since they were all part of the reason I invested in classes at ColdTowne. I had the chance to see a lot other cast members in Rezurangur perform at ColdTowne, and now—having had a chance to work with them—I’m certain this is one of the best groups of people I’ve ever had the chance to share a stage with.

Now, as a Level 2 student, and about to move into Level 3, I am so excited to keep going through classes, and eventually graduate. I love this community of people and always enjoy watching every show especially Missed Connections ATX, Loverboy, and Damn Gina. Come see Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee!

Michael Dolan is an Austin native and has been a student at ColdTowne since 2016. He’s a drummer with 20 years’ experience of many different genres. He’s a beauty school dropout, graduate of Texas Bible Institute and doesn’t use any of that knowledge at his job doing Software Quality Assurance.

He’s performed in the Bit Show and now with Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee Sat. nights at 8:30pm only at Coldtowne Theater from March 4th through April 8th. $10 online, $12 at the door. Buy tickets here.

The ColdTowne Conservatory’s New Dean: Irene White

ColdTowne is excited to announce that our good friend, the talented IRENE WHITE is taking over as Dean (’cause why not?) of the ColdTowne Conservatory. Along with the talented and awesome Cortnie Jones, she’ll be directing all manner of improv comedy education business at ColdTowne, from helping to improve our syllabus to creating elective and graduate programs.

Irene hails from Texas, where she graduated from UT. She has studied at the Second City in Chicago and IOWest in Los Angeles, where she also taught improv for many years. Irene can be seen in lots of commercials and in episodes of Brothers & Sisters, Friends, Will & Grace, and Scrubs. Her recent credits include Carpoolers, Man Stroke Woman and the film Green Hornet.

Irene is joining our stellar team, who’s teaching and directing credits include Second City, Boom! Chicago, iO and more. If you’re interested in finding out why we’re one of the largest improv training center outside of New York, Chicago and LA, sign up for one of our upcoming classes or read more here.

REGISTER FOR CLASSES
Session 1202 – Saturdays 1-3pm (Starts March 31st) Click Here to Register Now
Session 1202 – Mondays 6-8pm (Starts April 2nd) Click Here to Register Now