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Improv group Chicago Style performs at The Revival's new location in the South Loop May 17. Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden / Ecoglobalsociety

SOUTH LOOP — Three months after departing one of Hyde Park's popular commercial corridors for the South Loop, The Revival is open for laughs.

Owner John Stoops welcomed his new neighbors with a May 9 grand opening celebration at the comedy venue, 906 S. Wabash Ave. They've been coming back ever since, he said, adding that the summer session is underway.

The Revival's new home is “50 percent larger” than its old Hyde Park digs, with a bar and reception area in the front that leads to a large, airy performance space with enough seating to accommodate 200 people.

“We opened up the show with the legendary David Pasquesi from ‘Veep' and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.' He's part of an ensemble called Unsend. That was our first show on this stage for the general public, and it was a packed house. Every seat was filled, and that kicked us off for a weekend of shows. We could not be more excited about the reception,” Stoops said.

The Revival's new performance space is “50 percent” larger than its former Hyde Park home, said owner John Stoop. Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden / Ecoglobalsociety

Neighbors have been signing up for classes, as well. One of the more popular offerings is The Revival's Drop-In Improv, which allows newbies to try out improvisation without committing to a full session. The Friday night class has attracted a cross-section of city dwellers looking to have a little fun, Stoops said.

“It's a critical part of our community outreach,” Stoops said. “Yes, we're putting some of the best and brightest on this stage, and we want to bring folks from every background, every stripe, every age to try this thing because it is among the most accessible art forms. Anyone can bring their lived experience to the stage and have joyous fun being creative and spontaneous with each other.”

After checking out the drop-in class, people can stick around for a Friday night show to see how the professionals do it. Chicago Style is one of five groups performing on The Revival stage — including Unsend and Quitting Contest — and the diverse, six-person ensemble will bring its brand of absurd “mid-form” improvisation to new audiences until mid-June.

Members of The Revival's staff after a recent Friday night show. Credit: Jamie Nesbitt Golden / Ecoglobalsociety

Though the group formed three months ago, the members are improv vets who cut their teeth at shops like Second City and iO. They came from other groups to form one of their own, said Chicago Style member Jason Tolliver.

“It was basically a group of improvisers who just gathered around and came up with this show because improv is either short-form or long-form. We're kinda combining the two into a mid-form show. We do a couple of games and songs and things. It's a fun show. I'd give it a PG-13,” Tolliver said.

For those lamenting the Revival's South Loop move, Stoops said the venue is still pretty accessible if people need a comedy fix.

“We're accessible to all the folks who are ‘L' riders, Lake Shore Drive commuters jumping off the highway and popping down Michigan Avenue. The old facility could've easily fit into this space. This is the result of a two-year plan, and we're so excited to be official,” Stoops said.

For more information on classes, workshops and shows, visit The Revival website.


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