Power tools blare loudly as workmen drill, saw and file. A fuse is blown, and the lights go dark momentarily at the construction site for ImprovBoston’s spacious new theater. In a matter of weeks, the first curtain call of many will begin, and ImprovBoston will start a new legacy of comedic entertainment in a different part of Cambridge.

Power tools blare loudly as workmen drill, saw and file. A fuse is blown, and the lights go dark momentarily at the construction site for ImprovBoston’s spacious new theater. In a matter of weeks, the first curtain call of many will begin, and ImprovBoston will start a new legacy of comedic entertainment in a different part of Cambridge.


The theater troupe is celebrating 25 years of hilarious spontaneity with a newly renovated 3,400-square-foot theater — triple the size of their old Inman Square digs — and comes with the added bonus of being T accessible, located right in Central Square at 40 Prospect St.


Those familiar with the troupe know the theater, which has been in the same intimate space for the past 14 years. But the new space will have two theaters, a 100-seat main stage and a 40-seat cabaret space that will also be used for classes.


“Shows were selling out, and we were sure that we could be selling more tickets, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, so we decided it was time to make the move to a bigger space,” said Elyse Schuerman, ImprovBoston’s managing director.


The new theater will also feature a spacious and inviting lobby complete with a beer and wine bar. What’s more, ImprovBoston has made sure that the entire building is completely wheelchair accessible.


But the move hasn’t come cheap. The cost of renovating the new space is about $185,000, said Schuerman.


But the community’s appreciation for laughter and comedy is clear. ImprovBoston has managed to fundraise more than $100,000 since August when the campaign began.


Schuerman said the company has had tremendous success with zany tactics such as “The Mustache-a-thon” where troupe actors received pledges every day they kept their ever-growing facial hair intact.


Another successful campaign included having audience members bid on shaving cream pies that could be thrown in an actors’ face at any time during the performance.


“The pie auction was really successful. It would bring in a couple of extra hundred dollars a weekend,” said Schuerman.


The troop has also received a large number of donations from fans and residents.


“We’ve had three major anonymous gifts of over $5,000, that have been incredible,” she said. “Also, we consider a major gift to be $500, and we really appreciate everyone who has donated and helped out. All donors get a special call, from volunteers. We want them to know what a personal experience this is for us.”


ImprovBoston also managed to find an extremely kind head architect, ER Racek, who is working pro bono. And contactor Alan Factor, a grandfather of 11 grandkids and big fan of the troupe’s family show, has been telling the cast and volunteers how they can help by painting or basic carpentry to cut down on costs, said Schuerman.


Schuerman said they have three ensembles of about 45 performers, 15 crew members, eight directors and about 200 students pitching in to help with all the fundraising and renovations. The enormous amount of effort from volunteers and contributions from donors goes to show just how important ImprovBoston is to Cambridge’s cultural landscape.


With room to spread its wings and exercise its funny bones, Schuerman said ImprovBoston plans to add more shows to its current nine shows-a-week schedule, as well as offer more classes, summer comedy camps and eventually a “mommy and me” class.


“We are planning to have five more shows, and they’ll be in the cabaret room. And they’ll be a little different, more experimental and fringe theater,” she said.


The added space means the theater will be able to offer more classes and youth programming. Schuerman said ImprovBoston wants to be seen as a premier place for students to hone their comedic craft.


“One of the new events we have planned is a student night, that will happen on Wednesdays where our students can show off what they are learning,” she said. “It is really the best experience they can get, actually being on stage.”


ImprovBoston isn’t just a comedy troupe; it’s a big part of the community and plays a large role in many of the lives and relationships of its cast and crew.


Schuerman met her husband of a year-and-a-half, Don, through ImprovBoston. And she doesn’t have a fleeting relationship with the troupe, either. Schuerman has been with ImprovBoston since 1999.


For new performer Steve Delfino, a toy storeowner and recent graduate of ImprovBoston’s standup class, ImprovBoston marks his return to the theater.


“The last time I performed was 17 years ago in college,” he said. “The old theater is where I restarted this aspect of my life again.”


As the stage went dark for the last time on Jan. 30, and ImprovBoston shut its doors at the Inman Square theater forever, Schuerman said the stage’s prominent brick wall — a staple for comedic performance — will be missed most by cast members.


“We are going to miss Inman Square as well,” she said. “We’ve been a part of that neighborhood for so long. I know a lot of cast members are going to miss going to Bukowski’s, and earning their beer mugs. But we are happy to be moving to Central Square, and I’m sure we’ll find a new place the cast can hang out at, after shows.”


Cambridge Chronicle