Review of The One Four Fives at The Improv Shop

    This review has the 411 on the One Four Fives, an improv troupe that creates and performs a Broadway-style musical completely on the spot. This show is never repeated. Its opening night is also its closing night.

    The One Four Fives celebrated their fifth anniversary in August. The reason for their longevity was clear at their first performance in September. They have mastered the tricks of their trade.

    In the first of the show’s two parts, the company’s pianist, Darrell Barber, asked the audience to shout out topics for the 40-minute musical to follow. After hearing several proposals, the company members agreed among themselves to do a musical about doggy daycare. They immediately began channeling typical behaviors of dogs and dog owners, getting the first of the evenings many laughs.

    The evening’s first musical number gave the show its title—Forever Home: The Musical. The group’s ability to work together in improvised songs was very impressive.

    A number about finding a forever home was a bit of a stretch from the subject of doggy daycare, but the next scene explained the change. The daycare’s owner, we learned, was constantly trying to add new businesses to the daycare, much to the consternation of her principal advisor. The owner was delighted, for example, when another character suggested putting a bar into the daycare and serving beers with dog-related names. My favorite was I-Paw-A.

    The plot had several threads. One focused on the owner’s romantic interest in her manager. Another was about a couple with different ideas on how to expand their family. The woman wanted a child; the man wanted a dog. The plot threads all came together in a highly satisfying conclusion.

    After the intermission, the company created a second musical based on life of an audience member who had been invited onstage for an interview. Not much solid information was provided, but the One Four Fives brought out the humor in the sketchy details.

    The volunteer had recently lost a job, but the reasons for the termination were either not specified or not understood. When the One Four Fives presented their version of the firing, the volunteer chimed in from the audience, “That’s exactly what happened.”

    All the comedic exchanges and musical numbers had striking polish. The ensemble included Anna Bushlack, Boo Kersting, Jenn Korman, Nathan Maul, Ryan Myers, and Ashley Rube. Another member of the group, Andy Sloey, did not perform that evening.

    The One Four Fives improvise their musicals at The Improv Shop, 3960 Chouteau Avenue, in The Grove. The next scheduled performance is on September 23 at 8 p.m.

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Kevin Kersting
    From the left, Boo Kersting, Nathan Maul, Andy Sloey, Ashley Rube, Ryan Myers, Jenn Korman, and Anna Bushlack.