Laughs roar across campus with Friday Night Live

Ryan D. Gilliam, Reporter

With the fall semester of the 2014-2015 school year at SUNY Buffalo State swiftly approaching, professors are preparing course curriculums and then checking them twice. However, returning students, such as those belonging to Casting Hall Productions’ Friday Night Live cast, are sharpening their tools of improve.

What started as an improvisational theater class’s final project assignment in 2006, the late-night comedy show has now served as a weekly live event for students to enjoy every semester, free of charge.

The Friday night showcase of on-the-spot games currently consists of approximately 13 cast members. Ryan Mulvihill, who switched his major from electrical engineering to theater, is one of seven members added to the cast this past spring semester.

Mulvihill shared the experience he has had with FNL thus far and said that he’s, “never really done anything like this before, so, going into this, I didn’t know what to expect. I got really comfortable, and got to learn so much.”

The cast of FNL, along with their advisor Ron Schwartz, hosts tryouts to replenish the group of enormous talent every second semester of a school year. The latest addition of recruits has been unexpectedly the most numerous admitted to the talentedly diverse troupe.

“We’ve had theater film and arts majors, English majors, math majors. Whoever has the drive and wants to do this and have fun, we want to have fun with them,” five-year FNL cast member, Ricky Needham, revealed when asked who were generally accepted to tryout and potentially join the student performance group.

“The cast has grown tremendously. The first few years of doing this, we only had a cast of four or five – which is the typical size of an improv group,” Needham said. “But we get so many fresh faces and people who want to do this, we don’t want to turn them away.”

Many of the cast members are a part of other on-campus productions, which creates a fan base and gets the word out. This school year’s portrayals will include the musical “Footloose” and the Shakespeare play “Romeo and Juliet.”

“We get such a loyal audience, too. Sometimes during midseason, we have theatre majors who are in other shows and can’t make the performance on Friday night. Sometimes we’ve had to cancel shows because there are not enough people to perform for the audience,” said FNL cast member, Mike Wagner.

The new recruits, and returning cast members themselves, are kept on their toes thanks to the “FNL Bible.” According to Sam Merriman, the FNL Bible supplies him and the group with “the meat and potatoes of the games,” which they learn and practice playing every Sunday during the school year. These games include cast and crowd favorites such as “the Showstopping Number,” “Film Noir,” “the Dating Game,” “’Mallow Mouth,” “Spot Scene Stipulation,” and “Chapter Book.”

While that slight casting dilemma has been fixed, there seems to never have truly been a problem with the number of students in the audience.

Whether the show has been hosted in one of the assembly halls within the Campbell Student Union, or the flexible theatre in the Donald Savage Building, FNL brings in a large crowd.

Students are even encouraged to arrive a bit earlier before the doors are opened no matter the venue.

And freshman: look out for a special show happening just for you by browsing Friday Night Live’s Facebook group page.