The Big HOO-HAA! sees two rival improv teams, the Hearts and the Bones, battle it out for ultimate bragging rights and a big trophy. The Hearts combat the Bones in a series of improv games taking audience suggestions and rolling with the punches.
The stage is reminiscent of a pirate ship. With the blue-backdrop and the flags for each team taking a good portion of the back wall. Walking into the room knowing nothing about what is happening, you think pirates. But what comes is all the better (yes, better than pirates). And if you really want the pirates, you can yell out some pirate-related suggestions and the teams might just accommodate. On the night we attended the teams had to sing a song about milk, perform a dramatic scene in the genre of ‘tentacle-porn’ and create an entire musical about dinosaurs. Pretty ridiculous stuff, but it was amazing watching the actor’s minds ticking away – thinking about what’s coming next and always being on form.
Each of the cast members – for the Bones were Anna Renzenbrink, Elly Squire and Dan Debuf and the Hearts were Candice D’Arcy, Caitlin McNaughton and Mark Gambino – were incredible in their own right. The ability to think quickly and apparently sing on cue and be funny at the same time appeared to be inherent to all of them. The MC for the evening was Brianna Williams. She was energetic and clear, revving up the crowd and teaching the new-comers how to engage with the show. Whenever The Big HOO-HAA! Is mentioned, the crowd chants and fist-pumps along. It’s great fun.
As traditional improv goes, Williams coaxed suggestions from the audience. But when it came to judging, it was up to us to cast the vote and decide the winning team. It’s really nice to sit back and watch people truly enjoy themselves, make you laugh and win a competition all the while feeling like you’re involved. If you don’t want to shout anything, you don’t have to, you’re more than welcome to just sit back and take it all in.
A special mention needs to go to the musician for the evening, Caleb Garfinkel, who managed to set the tone for each scene, game and genre on a moment’s notice. Without his musical input the show wouldn’t feel as polished or the scenes as fully realised. The Big HOO-HAA! is an imaginative, interactive, hilarious and generally friendly show. If you like Improv or just want to smile and watch masters of the craft go at it, this is definitely one to put on the list.
The Big HOO-HAA! is on at the Melbourne Town Hall on Friday, Saturday and Monday nights until 21 April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets, show details and accessibility information are available via the MICF website.