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Games and gaiety with Top Banana

Top+Banana+members+Elizabeth+Roby+%28%E2%80%9822%29%2C+Paul+Adams+%28%E2%80%9822%29%2C+Caleb+Kvale+%28%E2%80%9819%29%2C+Annika+Peterson+%28%E2%80%9819%29%2C+Vincent+Grube+%28%E2%80%9821%29%2C+and+Jonathan+Kuehner+%28%E2%80%9820%29+performed+in+the+atrium+of+the+Center+for+the+Arts+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+5.+%09%09%09%09%09%09%09%09+++++++++++
Top Banana members Elizabeth Roby (‘22), Paul Adams (‘22), Caleb Kvale (‘19), Annika Peterson (‘19), Vincent Grube (‘21), and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) performed in the atrium of the Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 5.

Top Banana members Elizabeth Roby (‘22), Paul Adams (‘22), Caleb Kvale (‘19), Annika Peterson (‘19), Vincent Grube (‘21), and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) performed in the atrium of the Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 5.

Olivia Schmidt (‘22) | Chips

Olivia Schmidt (‘22) | Chips

Top Banana members Elizabeth Roby (‘22), Paul Adams (‘22), Caleb Kvale (‘19), Annika Peterson (‘19), Vincent Grube (‘21), and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) performed in the atrium of the Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 5.

Olivia Schmidt, Staff Writer

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Let the games begin! Luther’s improv troupe Top Banana presented their first performance of the season in the atrium of the Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 5.

The crowd was full of anticipation preceding the show, and when the members of the troupe first stepped onto the stage, they were met by thunderous applause. The cast for this performance consisted of eight individuals, including Top Banana president Annika Peterson (‘19), Andrew Tiede (‘19), Caleb Kvale (‘19), Jonathan Kuehner (‘20), Vincent Grube (‘21), Paul Adams (‘22), Elizabeth Roby (‘22), and Gibby Swalley (‘22).

Improv production is very different from typical theatre, as there is no script, no plot, and no consistency. To help them set up a scene, an improv troupe has “games,” or a general outline for the format of a skit, and they ask for suggestions from the audience as to what they should act out.

“We have some [games] that we’ve done for a while [like ‘Our Town’], but we are always open to doing new games that are fun to play,” Peterson said.

Olivia Schmidt (‘22) | Chips
Paul Adams (‘22) and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) experience extreme terror during a Top Banana practice before their first show of the year in the Center for the Arts atrium.

The first game of the night was called “Build a Better Bear.” The group was given two letters, B and M, and created three options for skits the audience could see. Ultimately, Grube’s “Bad Mommies” won. In it, Tiede and Kuehner are two irresponsible mothers, who cannot seem to decide which of them is the mother of Grube. Eventually, his father, Swalley, intervenes, but even he cannot say which of them is the mother, resulting in a comedic fight as to who is responsible for the child.

“I definitely preferred the ‘Build a Better Bear’ sketch,” attendee Rose Torti (‘22) said. “It was the first thing the group did, and I thought that it was so cool how quickly they slipped into their characters, and just how creative they were to come up with those scenes on the spot.”

Another highlight of the evening was the game “5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” where five members create a skit, and then are progressively eliminated until one person is left to fill all the roles. The skit detailed a strange encounter between the owner of a broken-down Tesla and some locals. As the performance unfolded, a mechanic came, but the car owner was less than enthused because she was a cow. Unable to fix the engine, Bessie the mechanic and the disgruntled car owner rode off into the sunset. In the end, it was left to Adams to fill all the required roles, which he did to the amusement of the audience.

Olivia Schmidt (‘22) | Chips
Top Banana members Andrew Tiede (‘19) and Vincent Grube (‘21) hug during practice under the supervision of Top Banana president Annika Peterson (‘19).

The final skit of the night was called “Our Town,” which is the traditional closer of every Top Banana show. This skit was set in the town of Fuzzy Car, where a crime has been committed: someone has stolen all of Swalley’s Beanie Babies. Assisted by his lover and the town spy Tiede, Swalley determines the culprit to be Kvale and Adams, who is acting as a young child. The mayor, secretary, teacher, and butler all try to settle the matter of who should get to keep the Beanie Babies, and a Beanie-Baby-bag-toss is arranged to decide the rightful owner. However, Swalley decides to give his Beanie Babies to Adams in exchange for a promise that Adams never steals again.

“I’d never been to anything like that, but I would definitely go again,” attendee Grace Edsill (‘22) said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’d highly recommend them to everyone.”

For those interested in auditioning for the troupe next year, Roby thinks it is worth it to get out of your comfort zone to try something new.

“You [cannot] question what you’re doing,” Roby said. “I’m a very introverted person, but in that setting I push everything away. There’s no room to question yourself.”

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