'Speed Charades' Brings Actors and Audience Together in a Fun-Filled Extemporaneous, Off-The-Cuff Night of Hilarity at the Pasadena Playhouse

Published : Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 4:49 AM

Get ready for an improvisational and first-hand lesson in “Speed Charades” from a range of great actors as The Pasadena Playhouse puts on the first “Playhouse Celebrity Game Night: Speed Charades” on Monday, June 10.

It’s an up-close and interactive production for actors and audience and the players put on a hilarious night of off the cuff humor.

“Playhouse Celebrity Game Night: Speed Charades” stars John C. Reilly, Jane Kaczmarek, George Molina, Simon Helberg, Matthew Lillard, Melora Hardin, Jason George and Cynthia Rowley. The cast is subject to change.

For those who appreciate extemporaneous humor and quick-witted hilarity, this is an opportunity to observe and mingle with trained actors, who may also show a vulnerable and off-screen side. But the audience members have an advantage: They already have the clue. They are sitting on stage with the actors and teammates, who gesture and gesticulate to convey the answers against a ticking clock.

Nancy Baxter, Director of Development for Pasadena Playhouse said there was preparation for this extemporaneous-seeming production. Baxter, who started in her new position last April works in tandem with Playhouse Producing Artistic Director Danny Feldman who brought “Speed Charades” to the table as a unique way to fundraise. He did “Speed Charades” when he was at the LaByrinth Theater Company in New York

“What we’re planning to do is to build out a platform in the center of the stage,” Baxter said. “So there’ll be effectively two front rows and back behind that on either side of the stage. So the competitor trying to get their team to guess what word or phrase they’ve been given, will be the center of the stage acting out for their teammates. They’ll be opposing each other.

“Apparently this can get a little crazy and highly competitive,” she said. “Everyone wants bragging rights. It’s not like there’s a grand prize, but everybody wants bragging rights. And so it’s really fun.”

It’s an opportunity to see the players in a different environment and it’s a chance to portray multiple roles at the drop of a hat. There’s a point system and some aspects make the show seem like a memorable Chuck Barris production.

“Given the latitude to do what they want, it’s kind of fun to see them in charades and it’ll be the ultimate kind of Improv show,” Baxter said. “The audience will know the clue. We’ll have signs and what it is they’re trying to act out. And so, you know, and if for some reason they say a word or something, do something they’re not supposed to, there are judges and they’ll hit a gong and call them out.”

Behind the Scenes with the actors is where the magic is, Baxter said.

“I think I’m excited because I love seeing the craft of actors and you, I’m sure, you know having aspired to being an actor I love seeing people just express themselves in ways that you don’t necessarily see on film or in a specific role,” she said.

But in all, the evening serves the purpose of helping to fund some serious educational programs.

“And we’ve got a couple of other surprises in store,” she said. “And there won’t be a lot of speechmaking, but we will use the opportunity at the beginning to talk about, the importance of being a member-based theater and member-supported theater and what that does to enable us to support programs in the community. It will be a great night.”

Proceeds from the humorous competition go to Pasadena Playhouse programs.

For tickets go here: https://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/event/game-night/

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