PPDC Hosts Spolin Players Improv Troupe

Presidential Candidate Gov. Jay Inslee to Speak at Woman’s Club

Over 100 attendees filled Pierson Playhouse with boisterous chortles and guffaws last Sunday afternoon during a special fundraiser performance from legendary improv troupe the Spolin Players, organized by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club.

The event began with cheese, wine and mingling before audience members took their seats in the theater.

Performing together since 1988, the Spolin Players are a posse of seasoned TV, film and radio professionals and fans, students, friends and acolytes of Viola Spolin, internationally recognized originator of theater games (the basis for improvisational theater).

In the 1960s, Spolin worked with her son Paul Sills as workshop director for Second City in Chicago, later publishing her book “Improvisation for the Theater,” a collection of 220 acting games and exercises.

The Spolin Players today consist of actors Danny Mann, Pat Musick, David McCharen, Anna Mathias, Donna du Bain, Jim Staahl, John Mariano, Gary Schwartz, Edie McClurg, Jonathan Schmock, Deb LaCusta, Casey Campbell and PPDC Board Member Gail Matthius, a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member and voice actor on popular cartoons.

Highlights from the troupe’s performance included a game in which one player humorously translates a conversation of gibberish between two others and another in which two characters are given annoying characteristics.

In diametric opposition, McCharen played a character that invades personal space (a “close-talker”) while Mariano played a character that can’t make eye contact. Audience members were in stitches as the two magnetically repelled each other.

Another great moment was a scene at William Randolph Hearst’s castle in which a starlet (Musick) fawns over Hearst (McCharen).

“I’m young and I have needs,” Musick said.

“I have knees too—and they’re giving out,” McCharen quipped.

“We were thrilled with the turnout,” PPDC VP of Communications Adam Wolman told the Palisadian-Post. “This was a great opportunity to put politics aside and have a good laugh—while supporting a group fighting for change in a community that voted over 70% Democratic in the last presidential election.”

PPDC is co-hosting with Santa Monica and Malibu democratic clubs debate-watch gatherings July 30 and 31, as well as a “Meet the Candidate” series of appearances for Palisadians to hear and meet presidential contenders without having to attend a fundraiser.

“We believe there is a qualitative difference between meeting a candidate in person and getting an impression on television,” Jane Albrecht, president of the Malibu Democratic Club, explained. “There is a large, interesting field of Democratic Candidates this election. Our members want to know more about them. These events are designed to make that possible.

“They are about connecting the candidates with the voters. None of the clubs are endorsing any candidates at this time.”

Pat Musick and Gail Matthius

The fourth Meet the Candidate event is Washington Governor Jay Inslee—reportedly the first presidential contender ever to speak at a free event in Pacific Palisades—who will speak at Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club July 22 at 5 p.m.

“I have been a resident of the Palisades for 36 years,” Board Member Arline Halper told the Post. “This is the first time in my memory that a presidential candidate is coming to the Palisades to meet the community in an open forum.”

“We’ve got another major 2020 contender lined up for July as well, though we can’t yet say who. The club’s Facebook feed will break the news soon,” Wolman teased.