“It’s the scariest performance I do. But it’s also why I love this job.” – A Chat with Kristian Bruun on SONGBUSTER – an improvised musical
Interview by Shaina Silver-Baird
I had the joy of chatting with Kristian Bruun, one of the artists performing and creating nightly Songbuster – an improvised musical on now at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. He spoke about the need to put on more musical improv in the city, how they prepare for a performance that is always changing, and how this is both the scariest kind of performance and why he loves his job.
Shaina Silver-Baird: How did Songbuster start? What was the inspiration for creating a fully improvised musical?
Kristian Bruun: It started with Stephanie Malek and Josh Murray in the summer of 2015. They both wanted to see more musical improv represented in the city and went out to all the people they thought would not only bring top talent, but also be fun to perform with. We all love musicals, and the excitement that comes from improvising one is unlike anything else. Originally, we were just doing a couple shows for Blockbuster Week at Bad Dog and Big City Improv Festival and it just grew from there.
SSB: How did you get involved?
KB: Stephanie approached me and said she was putting a group together. How could I say no? I’ve worked with some of the cast before (like Nug in Evil Dead! The Musical) and it seemed like a fun project.
SSB: Is it scary going out on stage not knowing what’s going to happen?!
KB: Always. It’s the scariest performance I do. But it’s also why I love this job.
SSB: How do you prepare/rehearse for an improvised musical?
KB: We run songs, scenes, mini versions of shows. We work on different varieties of songs and song structures. We revisit classic story arcs found in musicals, and character archetypes, and always go back to the basic foundations of storytelling. It always helps having an expert eye to guide us and this year we’ve been working a lot with Carly Heffernan, who is brilliant and always sharp with her notes.
SSB: You did this show before at the Fringe Festival. Will this version be any different?
KB: Not really. Of course, we hope we’ll be even tighter as a group. We love these chances to do a run of shows because we always learn so much from night to night. It’s improv, so every show will be wildly different and wonderfully weird.
SSB: Do you have any favourite moments from the last run?
KB: We had a musical take place on the moon that got very randy. Everybody was making out and grinding on each other. The audience really got their money’s worth that night. Yeah. That was fun.
SSB: Many people know you from your TV/film work. How is this style of performance different? What are the challenges and are the two related for you?
KB: This is a type of performance where I’m left to my own creativity and that of my cast mates. No script, not much of a plan… It’s so open and nerve-wracking and fantastic! It’s a complete rush being on stage with no script (also a common theme in my nightmares). I sometimes get to improv on set, but here the world is our oyster and we shuck the hell out of it.
Rapid Fire Question Round:
Favourite play you saw this year: Obsidian Theatre’s stunning production of “Master Harold”… and the Boys.
Favourite movie: Swiss Army Man.
What’s on repeat on your iTunes: The Hamilton Soundtrack.
Favourite food: Roti.
Most embarrassing moment (or the most embarrassing one you’ll tell us): Anytime someone recognizes me I turn beet red, get all shy and start flop sweating. I walk away embarrassed every time. Thank god it doesn’t happen too often…
Describe Songbuster in 5 words: Musical appears before your eyes.
Songbuster – an improvised musical
Presented by Songbuster Inc.
Created by the Ensemble – every night!
Featuring Tricia Black, Kristian Bruun, Ashley Comeau, Alexandra Hurley, Stephanie Malek, Josh Murray, Nug Nahrgang, Nicky Nasrallah and Connor Thompson
Musical Director Tom King
Fast paced, ridiculous and always entertaining, the cast creates an hour long musical from suggestions provided by the audience. This dynamite cast has been seen in mainstage musicals and comedy clubs around the country and knows how to make you laugh one moment and break out your jazz hands the next.
Factory Theatre Studio (125 Bathurst St.)
January 06 at 09:00 PM
January 07 at 04:00 PM
January 08 at 08:00 PM
January 09 at 09:00 PM
January 11 at 07:00 PM
January 12 at 05:30 PM
January 14 at 06:00 PM
January 15 at 01:45 PM