Head of the class: United Citizens Brigade brings top young comedians to Toledo


The United Citizens Brigade Touring Company makes its Toledo debut Sunday when some of the nation's top up-and-coming comedians perform a long-version improvisation at the Valentine Theatre.

"It's just four people in regular clothes on an empty stage with no lights. There's no music, no soundstage. There's no safety net," said executive producer Carter Edwards in a recent phone interview from New York.

Before the show starts, the comedic quartet -- Dru Johnston, Zack Willis, Karin Hammerberg, and John Frusciante -- will choose material from an audience member. "Typically we will call for a volunteer to come on stage and talk about their life; about what they do, where they're going, what they had for lunch. ... Every single thing they are going to see is entirely made up on the spot," Edwards said.

The UCB Theatre has two schools for comedians in New York and Los Angeles. It was founded by comedian Amy Poehler and has produced notable professionals including Jack McBrayer, Horatio Sanz, Donald Glover, Zach Woods, and Ed Helms.

"We have one of the largest if not the largest training schools in the country. We have enormously talented comedians and we send the best of the best on the road," Edwards said.

UCB annually sends between 10 and 25 groups comprised of its top students to perform nationwide. "We usually do 150 to 250 shows a year. I think we've been in every state this year except Hawaii and one of the Dakotas," Edwards said.

The United Citizens Brigade Touring Company will perform at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St. Tickets prices range from $24 to $40. Information: 419-242-2787 or valentinetheatre.com.

New director

Edmund Lingan recently has been selected as Glacity Theatre Collective's artistic director.

Lingan, company dramaturge, is an assistant professor in the University of Toledo's Department of Theatre and Film. He moved here in 2007 from New York where he worked in several aspects of theater. He plans to promote a wide range of projects and add program diversity to Glacity. In consideration are open-mike nights, staged readings, and continuing to produce full productions including the upcoming Circle Mirror Transformation opening January 17 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1201 Madison Ave.

He replaces Cornel Gabara who served as artistic director for six years and stepped down to allow more time for directing and acting.

Swing sisters

MONROE -- River Raisin Centre for the Arts Saturday will host a USO-style show with The Swing Sisters Fabulous 40's Holiday.

The Swing Sisters have performed with national and international acts and for three former first ladies: Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Rosalyn Carter. The show's theme is love, wartime separation, coming home, and includes holiday music, glitz, and glamour.

They recreate the sounds of the Andrew Sisters while singing spirited tunes including "Jingle Bells," "White Christmas," and "Here Comes Santa Claus."

"The Swing Sisters Fabulous 40's Holiday" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at River Raisin Centre for the Arts, 114 S. Monroe St., Monroe. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $15 for veterans and students. Information: 734-242-7722 orriverraisincentre.org.

House divided

ARCHBOLD -- Napoleon native W. Taylor Moyer, Jr., this weekend will debut A House Divided, a historical musical presented by 1801 Productions at Northwest State Community College here.

Moyer displays his lifelong passion for history in this story about the Buckleys who are fighting to keep their family together during the Civil War. Music and lyrics have been written by Austin Patrick, a NSCC student.

"A House Divided" will be performed at 6 p.m. Friday and at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Northwest State Community College, 22600 State Rt. 34, Archbold. Tickets are $26 for Friday's dinner theater performance. Tickets are $14 for Saturday's show-only performances. Information: 419-267-1350 or lzachrich@northweststate.edu.

Send theater items at least two weeks in advance to jnjaim@theblade.com.