Setting Your Love Story on the Stage
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because love and improv make happy bedfellows.
By Katherine George
When the house lights go down, hands shoot up. The audience members, eager for a chance to participate in the musical, are like excited little kids in a classroom, waving one hand in the air, on the edge of their seats, whispering to themselves, “Me, me, choose me!”
Your Love, Our Musical is an improv musical that lets one couple’s love story — how they met, how they fell in love, what being in love with each other is like — set the scene for the show. In the first half of the one-hour performance, actors Rebecca Vigil and Evan Kaufman interview a couple from the audience and jovially grill them over innocuous details of their relationship. The second half of the show is the improvised, on-the-spot musical based on that couple. And while the actors do rehearse musical forms beforehand and build muscle memory for song structure, Kaufman says the performance usually “just comes from that lovely soup of the subconscious.”
The first time I saw YLOM (there have been many times since), I didn’t know what to expect. My prior experience with improv included cringe-worthy performances of eager-to-impress actors who failed to land their forced jokes. But this show was different — instead of fake chuckles, I had genuine tears of laughter. For weeks afterward, I caught myself singing the hook to one of the songs improvised onstage. That was in 2015, and it’s stuck in my head now.
The best part of the show? Not knowing what to expect — because it’s being invented right in front of your eyes.
Since the show began in 2014, it’s been performed monthly at the iconic Peoples Improv Theater in New York, often to critical acclaim. YLOM also had a sold-out run at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2015, where it won an overall excellence award. For $10, you can catch the show next at the NYC Improv Fest on March 24.
The best part of the show? Not knowing what to expect — because it’s being invented right in front of your eyes — and watching Rebecca and Evan imbue the real-life stories with both poignancy and humor, turning what might seem like a mundane meet-cute into an endearing rom-com. “Most couples think their stories are boring,” says Kaufman. “One of my favorite things is the moment when the couple realizes their story is actually interesting.”
Interesting, indeed, and sometimes weird (but good-weird). One of the couples’ stories was about their first date at a mobile toilet convention. Another met in the world’s first chat room. Sometimes the details get fuzzy halfway through the show, Kaufman says, and characters get invented — to great comedic effect. I’ve seen errant fathers, snobby mothers and, once, a horse.
Being in the audience, then, becomes very intimate: You and the 50-odd people packed into the small theater are the only ones who will ever have this exact experience — this story, these songs, the actors’ natural chemistry, and alchemy — onstage. Kaufman says they just want to give the audience something special to go home with, the “sincerity and the good feeling” that lingers when people leave. “Plus,” he adds, “we hope everyone gets super-duper horny. That’s the goal for any show: horniness.”
I can’t say I’ve ever left horny, but I have left a little bit lighter on my feet — and a little bit more in love with love.
- Katherine George, OZY Author Contact Katherine George