18-19 FST Improv
FST Improv was started in 2001 by Rebecca Hopkins and has been entertaining audiences on the Suncoast of Florida ever since. The first few years of performances were in the Goldstein Cabaret before finding a permanent home in the Bowne’s Lab in 2013. In 2014, former ImprovBoston Artistic Director Will Luera was hired as the Director of Improvisation and a variety of new shows have been added including long-form favorites When X Meets Y, We're Doomed, and The More You Know. FST Improv performs year-round on Saturday nights and select Friday Nights.
Limited View: $12
Join the cast of FST Improv for a show that you help make-up on the spot…literally! Before every show, 12 lucky audience members will be asked to randomly select out of the FST Improv infamous bucket of over 50 games. Those 12 games will comprise the line-up for that night which will feature a unique combination of scenes, sketches and songs selected by you and your peers! Regardless of how the ball bounces, everyone is promised to be a winner on this completely unique night of improvised comedy.
It’s time to go back to school! Uproarious characters and memorable plot twists will arise as the audience provides suggestions that the FST Improv cast will improvise into a John Hughes Back to School-style epic. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a teen, or a younger brother or sister, everyone can identify with the timeless characters that cross paths in our school’s hallways. Come relive your school days with FST Improv’s The More You Know!
All single tickets can be purchased online by clicking the link above or by calling the box office at 941-366-9000. Join us at one hour prior to your showtime for pre-show dining and drinks in Bowne's Lab Theatre! Reservations are not required, you will be seated at the table you reserved for the performance.
Do you need a ride to the theatre? Click here to find out more about our partnership with iTN Suncoast.
FST IMPROV MAINSTAGE CAST
WILL LUERA (Director) the Director of Improvisation at Florida Studio Theatre, Director of Big Bang Improv and serves as the Artistic Director Emeritus of ImprovBoston. Will is co-creator of Healing Moments for Alzheimer’s a non-profit organization that provides education advocacy and ministry for persons with dementia and their caregivers. Will tours globally as an improv and theater actor, director, and instructor that performs and teaches regularly all across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
CHRISTINE ALEXANDER has harnessed the power of laughter through nearly 20 years of improvisational stage comedy, corporate team building, and comedy wellness programs. As a founding member of the FST Improv program and a student at both the Magnet Theater and Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City, she lives by the motto: "If it feels good to laugh, then laugh to feel good." Her favorite days are the ones where she uses laughter as medicine for patients of cancer and Parkinson's treatments, where a good laugh can often help to cope with stress. In her free time, Christine enjoys stalking celebrities on social media, late night snacking and laughing loudly in awkward situations.
JASON CANNON is an Associate Artist at FST, which means he directs plays and musicals, collaborates with playwrights, teaches acting and playwriting classes, and tries to give more good advice than bad to Acting Apprentices. Mostly, though, he trims his beard, walks his Rottie, and makes the best key lime pie this side of the Myakka.
CHRIS FRIDAY is a professional actor and improviser with over 20 years of experience. He has performed on the mainstage and cabaret of Florida Studio Theatre, The Asolo, and American Stage. Chris is a founding member of the FST Improv Group, and the Musical Improv House Team, ‘Treble in Paradise’, and also serves as the Coach for the Musical Improv group, ‘Definitely Not Murderers’. Chris has toured the country performing and teaching acting and improvisation to people of all ages.
CHARLES PATRICK GOOCH Known around the world simply by his last name, “Gooch” was raised in Fresno, California. He is the baby and the best looking of his parent’s six kids. Gooch has been in the entertainment business as an actor, comedian, singer, promoter, producer and director for nearly 3 decades. In 2016, Gooch moved from the People’s Republic of Los Angeles California to work at the IMG Academy as the Head of Leadership. Gooch Teaches Improv 101 at FST. You can see Gooch weekly as he performs in the new musical Improv team, ‘Treble in Paradise” and is the newest member of the FST Mainstage Cast. Gooch lives by the motto, “ Let every day be filled with Peace, Love and Laughter”.
DARRYL KNAPP is a member of Dear Aunt Gertrude out of The Box in Tampa and the Level III teacher there. Go to boximprov.com for information. He is a member of the Mainstage Team at Florida Studio Theatre. He is on the independent team Team Comoji who perform in the Tampa Bay area. Darryl has been an improviser for over 20 years and likes seedless watermelon - do they even have watermelon with seeds anymore?... go ahead and quickly Google, live music, and the Tampa Bay Rays.
DENEE LORTZ is a Sarasota native and started acting classes at age 5 with the FST School. After years of FST training, she continued her theatre studies earning a BFA in Acting from Florida State University. While studying in London, she had the honor of portraying Lady Anne in Richard III at the historic Globe Theatre. Professionally, Denee has performed in Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, Colorado and New York. Denee is thrilled to return to Florida Studio Theatre - her artistic home.
EMILY LEVIN is a recovering attorney who originally studied and performed improv in the Chicago area. She was a founding member of an all female improv troupe called Lady HaHa and performed in the Chicago suburbs for drunk women having a ladies’ night out. Emily has since gone on to become a total embarrassment to her children. In 2013, Emily moved to Sarasota with her husband and is thrilled to be living here instead of freezing and shoveling mounds of snow in Illinois. Emily hopes that her career at FST will rise to new heights of embarrassment for her family.
ELISE RODRIGUEZ is a performer and teaching artist at FST. In 2017 she moved from Miami, FL leaving behind a legal career and a whole lotta cuban bread. She studied improvisational acting at Just the Funny Improv Comedy school in Miami, Florida and later joined the company as a cast member performing weekly in both their English and Spanish improv shows. Elise also performs in SIDE BAR, an improv duo; Treble in Paradise, FST’s musical improv cast; and directs Culture Coast on Facebook Live showcasing the arts in Sarasota! If you’re not careful, she will offer you cuban coffee- and your life will never be the same.
ANNA WEATHERWAX is an actor from Columbia, South Carolina. She graduated in 2018 with her BFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Anna came to Florida Studio Theatre last year to be an Acting Apprentice. There, she took her first Improv class with Will Luera and fell in love! She performs regularly with FST Improv and has performed with Square One Improv in Naples. She now happily serves as the Improv/Acting Fellow at FST!
ON DECK CAST
SUZANNE BEAULIEU started improvising as a teen growing up in Maine. She is a cast member in Florida Studio Theatre's On Deck and the musical improv troupe Treble in Paradise. A self-described improv nerd, Suzanne is also founding member of the all-female group Busted and a duo called BOGO Improv. Suzanne is a teaching artist at FST, as well. Her view of improv is as a means of personal creative expression and she wants to share the joy and creativity of improv with her students. She has a degree in fine art and has a jewelry line with her husband, Joe. In her spare time, Suzanne enjoys cooking and spending time with her fat black cat, Louis XIV.
SYLVIA DAY is an international actor, writer and coach. She trained in improv at UCB in New York, solo improv at Second City Chicago, and musical improv with The Showstoppers in London. Her solo comedy show 50 SHADES OF DAY has been performed in Switzerland, Chicago and Off-Broadway, and her regional theatre credits include Asolo Rep. As an improv coach she has worked with children, actors and corporate leaders around the world. www.sylvia-day.com @mssylviaday
SARAH DURHAM is an Artistic Fellow in Playwriting originally from Campbellsville, Kentucky. Her writing has been published or produced in five states, and most recently she won the Kentucky Theatre Association’s 10-Minute Play Festival. Sarah studied improv and comedy writing at Chicago’s Second City, and hopes to continue to write joy into people’s lives.
AMANDA HARGEN has been performing with the On Deck cast at FST since 2018. She is also a founding member of Come What Will, an FST house team that performs original narratives using the language and themes of William Shakespeare. When she is not doing improv, she sings lead in a kitchen band called Unleash the Keys; most of their songs are covers, and all of their concerts happen in her kitchen.
REBECCA HARP is a professional body worker, reflexologist, and yoga instructor. She is still waiting to hear back from Star Search about the VHS tape of her Roxette dance audition. When not improvising with FST, she enjoys playing sock tug of war with her best friend Rottweiler.
JAMES KASSEES has been acting, writing, improvising and directing for more than 30 years. He helped form Wilmington, Delaware’s first improv team, ‘Just Kidding!’. Later he started and directed another team, ‘Fearless Improv’, that's still going strong. James is thrilled to be a part of FST, learning and performing with a great group of talented improvisers. Yes, and he’s been able to take workshops with improv masters such as Joe Bill, Patti Stiles and David Razowsky. Totally bananas.
KYLE SHOEMAKER is a product of the FST Improv program. Kyle is a lover of film and theatre and studied Film Production Technology at Valencia College in Orlando, FL. He is thrilled to be apart of FST’s wonderful Improv community!
RYAN SIMPSON has lived, and been doing improv, in the Sarasota area for one year now, and comes to the Florida Coast from the Chicago area! Ryan has been improvising for about 12 years and is a proud graduate of the iO (Improv Olympic) Training Center in Chicago. After completing the iO program, Ryan joined GreenRoom Improv, an improv ensemble based in the NW Suburbs of Chicago, performing regularly with them for 4 years. He also has played with ImprovAcadia out in Bar Harbor, Maine. Ryan is also the former Artistic Director for CYT Chicago, an extra-curricular performing arts training program for students 8-18. With CYT Chicago, he taught many improv classes for students, coached many teams, and coordinated their annual Improvapalooza competition, which featured 10-teams competing in short-form style improv games over the course of a 3 day event! Since becoming a Floridian, Ryan is the Box Office Manager for the Florida Studio Theatre, has performed with FST Improv in Sarasota and Square One Improv down in Naples, and most recently co-created BOGO Improv, a two person improv show!
AUTUMN STEINER Despite being dubbed “The Unknown Comic” by her parents as a toddler, Autumn didn’t grace a stage until finding Florida Studio Theatre in 2015. Now she performs with FST Improv, Big Bang Improv, and the indie teams Glorious Reboot and Come What Will. Autumn was in the short film Barely Inspired, which premiered at the 2019 Sarasota Film Festival.
LEGACY CAST MEMBERS
REBECCA HOPKINS (Founder & Producer) is the founder and producer of FST Improv and the Sarasota Improv Festival. In addition, she has been actively involved in development of FST’s Cabaret productions since her arrival in 1998. This season, she is the lead developer on Unchained Melodies and co-developer of Guitar Girls, and The Wonder Years: The Music of the Baby Boomers. Previously she was the lead developer on Blue Suede Shoes, Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves; Yesterday; American Pie; and Poems, Prayers, and Promises. She has been the head writer on all five Laughing Matters shows. Some of her favorite shows she helped develop include: The Prima Donnettes; That’s Life; The Wanderers; My One and Only Gershwin; Hot and Cole; Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits; The British Invasion; The Flip Side; and Outlaws and Angels. Mrs. Hopkins serves as Managing Director for Florida Studio Theatre, and as such, is the Chief Operations Officer. Mrs. Hopkins is responsible for oversight of FST’s Administration, including the Business Office, Development, Marketing, Box Office, Front of House, Restaurant, Budgeting, and maintaining the overall quality of FST’s internal management. Nationally, Mrs. Hopkins is President of the National New Play Network and serves on the Executive Board for the League of Resident Theatres, and on the Board of Theatre Communications Group. In 2012, the Arts & Cultural Alliance awarded Mrs. Hopkins the Cultural Champion Award in recognition of her many years of accomplishment and growth with Florida Studio Theatre. In 2016, Mrs. Hopkins was awarded the Luminaire Award, honoring excellence in creativity, philanthropy, advocacy, and all elements that are keys to future growth of the arts in Sarasota.
KEVIN ALLEN is a writer, videographer, content creator and actor. He is thrilled to be back at FST after returning to Southwest Florida from his native Chicago, where he studied and performed improvisation at iO and The Second City. He earned a theater degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he was a member of the famed Comedy Wars improv team and co-founder of Cherry Street Improv. He is husband to Janet, father to Summer and a proud IBMer.
ANDREW DEEB An actor hailing from the city of St. Pete FL. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts ‘NY. A Member of AEA. An FST Improv member since 2016. A story teller. A professional punchline executioner. AND he recycles!
PATRICK A. JACKSON is excited to return for another season of fun and hilarious hi-jinks with FST Improv. When not onstage with the cast, he is the Education & Improv Associate with American Stage in St. Pete in addition to being an actor, playwright & teaching artist in the Tampa Bay Area. Patrick realizes that he favors the late great Sammy Davis, Jr. but feels his spirit animal is more aligned with Flip Wilson. Enjoy the show! www.patrickajackson.com
JOEY PANEK entertains onstage and small screens throughout Tampa Bay. He toured as a professional stage actor for 14 years, and has produced and starred in many webseries. By day, he’s the Senior Producer of Suncoast View at WWSB ABC7 in Sarasota. By night, he’s the proud father of a long-haired chihuahua, Lulu. www.howboutjoey.com
ADAM RATNER is jumping for joy like a bunny hopped up on Red Bull for another season of FST IMPROV! Adam has been performing Improv at FST since he was a mere infant, starting as a member of the “Original” Kids Komedy Club in the mid 1980s. Since that time, Adam has become the Lead Teaching Artist here at Florida Studio Theatre, instructing several levels of improvisation and acting classes. When not onstage, Adam spends his limited free time checking random pockets for spare change.
NATASHA SAMRENY is a comedian and storyteller who got her start training at The Second City in Chicago. Her playful style of stand-up comedy blends cheeky observations of life, relationships and her mixed, multicultural upbringing as a military brat. Natasha’s performed at the Boston Comedy Arts Festival, London’s Camden Fringe and Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe. She also improvises and teaches storytelling with Florida Studio Theatre. Stay connected @NatashaSamreny and natashasamreny.com.
MUSICAL IMPROV CAST
JAMIE DAY (MS, LMFT, RDT) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Drama Therapist and Creator of the Divine Mommy groups, and the Co-Creator of the Divine Badass Workshops for Women. Jamie has earned Master of Science degrees in both Marriage and Family Therapy and Interdisciplinary Arts from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. In addition, she also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre Performance from Northern Kentucky University. Her dedicated approach incorporates a creative and solution-focused mindset that empowers, affirms and invokes the strength within. Jamie is an active member in the Actor’s Equity Association and the Screen Actor’s Guild.
ASIA DEKLE is a classically trained vocalist, dancer and actor who hails from the exotic land of Jacksonville Florida. She is part of the FST musical improv troupe Treble in Paradise. Her musical theatre credits include Disenchanted (Venice Theatre), Ruthless! (Starlite Room), Legally Blonde (The Players Centre) and Josephine (Asolo Repertory Theatre). She has choreographed for Booker High School, Mama's Got Groove, and very long shows she made her family watch when she was seven.
SERGEI GLUSHONKOV (Pianist) has been playing piano since he was a sprightly Ukrainian baby. As his piano skills slightly improved over time, his maturity level remained the same. Thus, he found a fun-ducational outlet as sort of a superhero… “Southside Elementary music teacher by day – FST pianist by night.” Sergei has a few children’s musicals under his belt (or wherever one likes to keep their experiences): Jungle Book, Cinderella, School House Rock, and Sleeping Beauty. Sergei is extremely excited to be a part of FST troupe — just ask his shrink!
MARIA TEREZA SCHAEDLER-LUERA is a cast member of FST’s Musical Improv troupe “When X meets Y”. She is the Managing Director of Atomica Arts where she teaches Applied Theater, Meditation and Ayurveda. To learn more about her visit www.atomica-arts.com.
KATHRYN PARKS was actually born at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. A Sarasota-native with performers for parents, it wasn’t long before she knew every word to every musical ever written. She’s been fortunate to put some of that knowledge to good use having appeared regionally on many area stages, including Florida Studio Theatre, American Stage, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, the Players Centre, Venice Theatre, and with the St. Petersburg Opera Company. Her roles as Polly in Crazy for You, Julie Jordan in Carousel, and Edith in My One and Only lead to a coveted Handy Award from Jay Handelman and the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Within the improv scene, she’s enjoyed making up musicals on the spot and is part of the cast of “When X Meets Y” at FST Improv where she has also appeared at the Boston Comedy Arts Festival. An award-winning filmmaker, Kathryn wrote, produced and starred in the acclaimed short film 50 Words, which received “Best Florida Film” at the Bonita Springs International Film Festival. She graduated from the University of Miami with a BA in Theater. Her husband, Jonathan Parks, AIA, is an award-winning architect. http://kathrynparks.com/
JIM PROSSER (Pianist) is the featured pianist with the FST Improv troupe. He has been involved in the creation of many of FST’s cabaret productions, including Dancing In The Street, By Gershwin, European Cabaret, That’s Life Again, British Invasion, Harry Who?, Too Darn Hot, and last season’s productions of Mack The Knife: The Bobby Darin Songbook and Shakespeare's Greatest Hits. He has also written scores for numerous children’s musicals at FST including Androcles and the Lion, RAP-Punzel, The Velveteen Rabbit, and the WRITE A PLAY elementary tours.
“Hilarious” – Sarasota Herald-Tribune
“FST Improv Rocks Saturday Nights” – SRQ Daily
“Raw, comic talent” – Pelican Press
The annual Sarasota Improv Festival, which FST hosts and produces, is featured in Travel Mag's Top 12 Unique Things To Do in Sarasota
Book FST Improv
The FST Improv troupe is available to book for private events, parties, and corporate training. To inquire about availability and pricing, contact Director of Improvisation, Will Luera at 941-366-9017 x355 or by email at [email protected]
You can also host your private event at Florida Studio Theatre. FST has spaces for all occasions: holiday parties, luncheons, conferences, etc. To learn more about booking a space, click here.
To inquire about availability or tours, Matt Quick, Events Coordinator, at [email protected], or by phone at 941-366-9017 x347.
Bowne's Lab is located on the corner of First Street and Cocoanut Avenue inside of The Hegner Theatre Wing. For GPS purposes use the address of 1265 First Street, Sarasota, FL 34236. To see a list of our buildings and shows, please see below. For more information please call the FST Box Office at (941) 366-9000.
Do you need a ride to the theatre? Click here to find out more about our partnership with iTN Suncoast.
For those who require additional assistance or handicap parking/drop off, please see the map below. Handicap parking is reserved for patrons with a handicap tag and is in the lot across from the Hegner Theatre Wing. The area for drop off of handicap passengers/patrons for the Court Cabaret is along the corner of First Street and Cocoanut Avenue. If handicap parking is not available and you are dropping off a passenger, our lobby concierge would be happy to wait with them until you return. For any questions regarding handicap parking please call the box office at (941) 366-9000.