Topeka Civic Theatre makes ‘Laughing Matter’

Loads of Laughter Topeka Civic Theater provides live entertainment with Laughing Matters, Laughing Matters Junior and The Senior Class. They use comic sketches, games based on audience suggestion and improvisation to entertain their audiences.

Tricia Peterson / Washburn Review

Topeka Civic Theatre is the place to go for a night of improv, games and shenanigans, provided by the members of Laughing Matters Improvisational Comedy Troupe and Laughing Matters Junior.

Laughing Matters, Laughing Matters Junior and The Senior Class offer comic sketches and games based on audience suggestion.

Laughing Matters was started in 1993 by TCT’s artistic director Shannon Reilly, and Laughing Matters Junior began in 2008. Laughing Matters Junior is directed by Dorianne Rees, who has also been involved in Laughing Matters for 10 years.

“I take what I learn in Laughing Matters and apply it to [Laughing Matters Junior], only keep it cleaner,” said Rees. “We use Laughing Matters Jr. as a kind of training ground for Laughing Matters.”

To join, the junior show individuals must be at least 14 years old and can be up to 19 years old, which means Washburn students can participate. High schools from around the area such as Washburn Rural, Topeka High, Topeka West and Seaman also have students participating.

It’s a good way to get experience for future acting and also to move up to Laughing Matters some day.

“All these kids come every Sunday and are willing and ready to work,” said Rees. “We rehearse, go over the rules of improv and learn the games.”

All shows feature audience participation, skits and improvisational bits. For example, last Saturday they did a skit called “Speed Dating.” One actor leaves the room and three other come to the stage. The audience then decides who each actor will be and what kind of problem they have. One was Willie Wonka with diabetes, two was Arnold Schwarzenegger with a high-pitched voice and three was Waldo with a gas problem. The first actor returns to the stage and proceeds to go on three speed dates and when she is finished, she must guess who each one was supposed to be. This is just one example of the games they play for the audience’s amusement.

Abby Price, a member of Laughing Matters Junior and a freshman at Seaman High School, loves making people laugh.

“I love spending my Sunday afternoons [rehearsing] here with all these people,” said Price. “I just like performing for everybody, and everyone’s favorite part is making other people laugh.”

Audience member Amber Tarrant decided to bring her family when she received an e-mail about it.

“This is my second time and I love it. It is wonderful, it’s the best and it’s good for [the kids],” said Tarrant. “My son is a clown and he loves this kind of stuff. We will probably be at every one as long as they are around.”

The next show for Laughing Matters Junior will be March 3 at 7 p.m. and tickets are $5. The next Laughing Matters shows are on Feb. 10-11 at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10.

The Senior Class has a show coming up at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. The Senior Class features actors who are 55 years old and older and defines life in the golden years as a terrifically fun-filled trip.

They will be performing in the newly renovated Oldfather Theatre, complete with improved air conditioning, wheelchair access and padded seats. Tickets are $6. For more information check out topekacivictheatre.com.