Everett Improv offers laughter and learning
Rick Sinnett Photo
Pictured from left to right: Christina Jordan, Britney Barber, Zach Wymore and Andrea Chin entertain the audience during the Everett Art Walk.
EVERETT – Everett Improv offers live shows, improvisation classes, karaoke, painting experiences and “anything you can reasonably dream of” in their studio and lounge in downtown Everett.
If you’ve been looking to rehabilitate yourself since the pandemic restrictions were lifted, Everett Improv (EI) could be the answer. Between their shows, courses and “Painting Under the Influence” events, you are bound to meet new people. For those who want to take it a little slower, there’s the Reverse Drive-In Show, where they’ll come up to you and perform from the back of a pickup truck. EI owner Britney Barber makes it possible one way or another.
Barber’s love and devotion for the arts and sense of fairness are the foundation of EI. She uses her communication and improvisation skills to entertain and educate her students and offers corporate training. She said the workshops could help at every level of the corporate ladder by teaching people to think on their feet while staying calm. Sessions offered include conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and team building.
Given what it’s like to work for the public, running an ethical theater is Barber’s priority. She does this in two ways, giving her actors free drinks and paying them well. She explained that there are theaters where all actors pay for their drinks before, during, and after the show. Paid performers at these theaters are typically paid $ 12 to $ 25 per night of performance with the required rehearsals during the week. Barber doesn’t take a paycheck from EI, instead puts the money back while her wife pays the living expenses. “Money is the last thing on my list,” she said, “if you do the right thing, the money will come.”
As patron of the arts, Barber and EI will be supported by their wife, Dr. Jenifer (Jen) Barber, a former Lt. Commander of the US Navy, who was stationed as a crew doctor on the USS Nimitz. Jen extended her four-year stint on the plane for another two years just to stay in Everett. Barber stated, “We love this town so much that changing planes wasn’t an option.” In 2013 they bought their house and “plan to die there very old ladies.”
During the pandemic restrictions, some theaters had to close completely, but EI expanded. In the summer of 2020, Barber rented the room next door and doubled its size. The original space is now primarily the bar and lounge, the new space as a theater. With each room size roughly 4.5 x 30 feet, the venue is still quite intimate. However, the black stage background and walls create an illusion of space and highlight paintings by local artists.
The theater was able to open briefly in autumn 2020, but had to be closed in November. They covered the stage in plastic and made separate pods for the actors, and performed a live dubbing where the actors put the dialogue together as they play. “It looked like a killing room!” Barber joked and referred to the Dexter show. After closing down, EI moved on by offering online courses and corporate training.
Barber’s commitment to the theater is deeply anchored with a titanium rod in her left shin as evidence. She recalls the story that said, “It was my first show in Jet City (Improv); I kicked the wrong way and broke my leg two inches above the ankle. ”Since her foot was pointing the wrong way and felt bad about interrupting the show, she insisted that they act around her. Barber would “limp” her foot again at the end and the rhyming-filled Dr. Continue the Suess-inspired show. Laughing, she said, “Theater is pretty tough.”
For a list of Everett Improv events, visit www.everettimprov.com/shows
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