Broadway’s Next H!t Musical gives audience a look into professional improvisation

“Broadway’s Next H!t Musical” left audiences laughing at the performers’ antics as they
improved their way through multiple scenarios, vying for the faux award that would be
bestowed upon the audience’s favorite performance.
The Lion's Roar/Heather Jewell

Fans of Broadway left Columbia Theatre’s doors laughing after the production, “Broadway’s Next H!t Musical.” 

The performance was held on Tuesday, October 27, and the night began when audience members were told to write down fake song names on sheets of paper and put them in a bowl. Song titles included: “It’s Your Fault our Kids are Ugly,” “One Beer in the Fridge and a Hurricane Coming,” “A Hot Mess and Elegance” and “Changing the Light bulb and Breaking It.”

Before the show started, one off the performers, Greg Triggs, stepped out with a microphone and began a stand up on the red carpet set up in the lobby and interviewed other performers, as well as audience members. Throughout the night, many of his jokes included light plays on Louisiana culture or commonalities, such as nutria rats, the hurricane season, fried food and even city names like Opelousas.

Before performing the night, Triggs researched the city of Hammond, and one thing that stood out to him was that the newspaper The Daily Star, was not a daily newspaper.

“You find out these things, through interviews, looking online and sharing our own observations,” said Triggs. “Tonight was a really fun audience; sometimes you feel an audience give you a wave that you can ride by, and I feel like the audience tonight definitely did that, which is really fun.”

Once the show began, Triggs introduced each performer one at a time, and they would name a song title from the bowl that they chose moments before. Whichever song they chose, they would have to come up with a name of the play it came from, the story lines and perform a song from it, with the audience member’s title woven through it. 

First up was Megan Reilly, and she grabbed, “OMG, He’s Such a Hot Puppy,” from the musical, “Pounded.” It was set in Chicago during the 60s, and her character wants to have a career as a hip hop singer.

Next was Robert Z. Grant, and he pulled, “I Drove, I Texted, I Died,” from the musical, “Ghost to Show You.” In it, his character dies after texting and driving, and to get his life back, he has to save his younger brother from the same fate.

Following Grant was Katie Hammond, who chose, “Not Yet, I’m Thinking,” from the musical, “Pause.” In the world of “Pause,” most animals and trees are gone, people are moving at a rapid pace and Hammond plays a super villain trying to destroy the mayor before he catches her.

And lastly, Rob Schiffmann performed “I Clearly Lost My Way,” from the musical “The Land That No One Knew About.” His character ended up in a land of fairies and to save them, would have to jump in a volcano, not knowing whether or not he would survive. Schiffmann also pulled another song from the bowl to be used as an added lyric. Ironically, he pulled, “Better Today than Yesterday.”

After all songs had been performed, the audience chose their favorite, and Grant’s “I Drove, I Texted, I Died,” from “Ghost to Show You,” was chosen as the winner.

“I’ve been getting luckier lately, which is kind of crazy,” said Grant. “I said in my intro that I’ve never won it before, but in the last couple of weeks, I’ve won three times. After the shows I get to meet the people who wrote them, and the people tonight told me that on their way over here they saw a girl in her car texting.”

While the cast prepared to launch a full version of the song, pianist Eric March played an overture for the crowd.

“It always a new adventure with a new show. I used to get nervous, but this group makes it really fun,” said March.

Throughout the musical, the actors would continue to pull names from the bowl, incorporating them into the story, to move it along. “Ghost to Show You” ended with both brothers making bad decisions, as texting and driving, but eventually reconciling and then going back home to their mother. Despite the serious topic, the tone was kept light with jokes throughout the improvisational musical.

One audience member, Grier Truluck, truly enjoyed the performance and left ecstatic.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the show, [the actors] were so clever and beautiful and just a joy,” said Truluck.

The next show will be in New Jersey.

“I think New Jersey is going to provide less inspiration because, it is closer to home,” said Triggs. “It is a culture we are more familiar with. Perhaps our observations will be more close to day to day life as opposed to a 23 mile long bridge and rats with yellow teeth, things that make this area unique.”