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Improv Night and Mermaid Princess Tea to support Live Oak Conservatory

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As a student in Esprit Herbert’s improv class at Live Oak Conservatory, 15-year-old Christopher Alexander feels that he has learned a lot more than acting skills from his experience in the class, which teaches the art of improv; a dramatic artform described in a Live Oak press release as “the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Improvisation in the performing arts is a very spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation.”

“Improv teaches you to think on your feet, and about problem-solving,” he said. “This class has given me confidence, helping me think for myself.”

Christopher and his classmates will get the opportunity to publicly showcase their talents at Live Oak Theatre’s inaugural IMPROV Night, January 24, 7:30 p.m. at the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for the Arts, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville. This event marks one of two fund-raisers planned that weekend to benefit Live Oak, a not-for-profit 501 (C) (3) repertory company of local artists, that strives to provide positive artistic experiences in the Performing Arts, including family friendly entertainment, performance, and educational opportunities for theatre patrons and participants of all ages. 

Live Oak Theatre’s IMPROV Night is a fund-raiser set to contribute to the compensation of teachers and building operations at the Live Oak Conservatory, where about 150 children and adults study ballet, jazz, tap, art, chorale, improv and other skills. 

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At this performance, Live Oak Conservatory’s Improv Troupe aims “to create a show that no one has seen before nor will anyone ever see again.” 

“We want to show the public what we do at the conservatory,” said Live Oak dramatic coach Kyle Marra. “This gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills for a live audience.”

While the framework of all games and skits at the show will be structured and predetermined, audience members will be invited to inspire and sometimes participate in the action; perhaps directing one character to speak with a specific accent, or supplying prompts or directions onstage as part of a drama game.

“The audience will get involved,” said Marra. “And you’ll never see the same show twice.”

Live Oak improv teacher Esprit Herbert believes that, beyond acting, improvisation builds the vital skill of reacting.

“It’s a confidence builder,” she said. “No matter which way a situation goes, they learn to think on the fly and they know what to say.”

Herbert, who has experience as a missionary worker, also loves the fund-raising aspect of IMPROV Night.

“I love using my talent for acting as a mission,” said Herbert, “to give joy to audiences and to help students develop their gifts.” 


IMPROV Night will take place January 24, 7:30 p.m. at the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for the Arts. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person, and concessions will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission.

 For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.LiveOakTheatre.org or call the box office at 352-593-0027, or email [email protected]

Also that weekend, Live Oak Theatre will host its inaugural Live Oak Theatre Annual Princess Tea, hosted by “Princess Mermaid Ariel,” Jan. 25. 

Featuring cast members from the recent Live Oak production of The Little Mermaid, the Princess Tea is a fund-raiser for the Live Oak Conservatory scholarship fund.

At this event, Mermaid Ariel and her princess friends will lead guests in the singing of songs, and will guide them through fun educational activities. They will learn proper princess etiquette, and get the opportunity to create their own fairy wand.

“They will learn how to eat and sit like a princess at tea, and how to dance, wave and curtsy,” said Valerie Torres, a Live Oak volunteer and event co-coordinator. “And they will make their own wand at a craft station.”

Putting their freshly learned skills to good use, the newly minted princesses will feast on a tea of scones, fruits, pastries and desserts, tea sandwiches, pink lemonade, and–of course–tea; all served up on fine teaware. And at the Princess Tea, even the popcorn will be pink!

Aside from their newly accrued royal credentials, guests will come away with mementos of their time at the Princess Tea.

“Guests can take pictures with Ariel,” said Torres. “And each will get her own tiara.”

There’s even something magical about the admission to the Princess Tea. 

The tea will be celebrated at the Carol & Frank Morsani Center, 21030 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 25. Tickets are $15; adult tickets are $10 when accompanied by a paying child, 13 years and under.

“Usually, the child gets a discounted ticket if accompanied by an adult,” said Vince Vanni, dramatic coach at Live Oak. “This is something special.”

And guests of any age can partake in a Princess Pampering session at the tea. For an additional $40 per guest, a princess of any age can secure the rental of a princess gown and hair styling.

“And they get a splash of fairy dust,” Torres adds with a smile. 

Princess pampering guests will arrive by reservation, starting at 10 a.m. 

Those who plan to attend the Princess Tea should RSVP as soon as possible, so enough tiaras can be ordered for the event. To purchase tickets call the box office at 352-593-0027 or email [email protected]. or go to www.LiveOakTheatre.org.

“Like everything offered at Live Oak, the Princess Tea will be a family event,” said Torres. “This is a chance for moms, grandmas and little girls to do something together.”

And Torres, mother of a Live Oak student, sees the tea as the opportunity to provide more young princesses and princes with the opportunity to shine on the theatrical stage.

“We want to raise money for more Live Oak scholarships,” said Torres. “We want to give more children a chance.”

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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