The crowd filled the Long Beach PlayHouse as the audience anticipated lots of laughter and diverse storytelling in the dimly lit room at the preview of “Sketches 11” Thursday night.
The show was put on by Held2Gether, Improv for Life, a Long Beach-based comedy school, which was created to “bring out each individuals’ potential through the power of improvisation,” according to its website.
Held2Gether offers improv and sketch classes for kids and adults at all levels, including drop in classes, free workshops, song improv and speciality short form, writing and performance classes. “Sketches 11” was a graduation show for one of the classes that compiled the 10-student multicultural cast and 20 different sketches both written and performed by them.
“This is my first time going to the Long Beach Playhouse and the show met my expectations in a lot of ways. I thought there would be that improv kind of style,” said attendee Symone Miah. “‘Period Piece’ was my favorite [sketch]. I was hoping they’d tie one skit into another and they did. I thought it was hilarious and original.”
While it didn’t make it to the mainstage, “Sketches 11” still managed to reel the audience in, making the small, cozy upstairs Studio Theatre feel larger than life. Sketches such as “450 Degrees” incorporated neon colors with hipster swag and touched on baking through sexual innuendos. Other sketches including “This is U.S.” hit a little closer to home by highlighting the historic horrors of U.S. history and the difficult process of becoming an American citizen.
Most of the stories, told by a cast of varied backgrounds, reflected its city and audience throughout the night. Through diverse stories and characters, “Sketches 11” was able to captivate its audience with original, creative content and constant laugher.
“The tooth fairy scene was my highlight,” said attendee Michael Torres. “As a parent, it was relatable and I like that it had two gay dads. It’s something you don’t see often.”
“Present Text” emphasised society’s obsession and constant distraction of mobile devices and social media. “The More You Know” gave viewers tips on the multipurpose use of tampons, whether you need a good ear plug, want to make a fashion statement or just create a DIY cat toy. “Limbless” on the other hand, featured metallic costumes, strong vocal chords and a one-handed guitar performance along with a slow dance with members from the audience.
The two-hour show was broken up into two acts, with 11 sketches in the first and nine in the second. The intermission between acts left more than enough time to socialize, stretch, use the restroom or even grab something from the bar.
“I would definitely go again, I think it’s a cute scene & something to do. I’d recommend this show to those who are open minded and can handle not having a filter,” said attendee Wendy Amundson.
With over 15 different sketches and a diverse group of performers, there was a sketch that anyone could identify.