Kevin Gillese, Dad’s Garage artistic director, inside the new space.
Kevin Gillese, Dad’s Garage artistic director, inside the new space.

By Cathy H. Burroughs

Like The Groundlings in L.A. and Second City in Chicago, Dad’s Garage has put Atlanta on the improv map.

Dad’s Garage has helped launch the careers of such notables as Amber Nash and Lucky Yates, both known for their voice-over work on Archer, and Tara Ochs, who made her film debut in Selma. The company will continue to foster talent as it ushers in a brand new chapter in a new home – a church building in the Old Fourth Ward slated to open on New Year’s Eve.

Kevin Gillese, Dad’s artistic director since 2010 and an impressive improviser in his own right, talked to INtown about the remainder of the 2015 season while it puts on shows at 7 Stages in Little Five Points and what to expect in 2016.

What can we hope to see on 7 Stages’ for Dad’s Garage this coming season?
From Halloween to Thanksgiving, we’re running ThanksKilling: The Musical. This show has singing, dancing, blood, and a very homicidal turkey. True to Dad’s Garage style, ThanksKilling comes with its own drinking game; a little booze helps this turkey fly. Also in October and November, Dad’s will be running the always-popular improv show Murder, She Improvised. Each show starts with a dead character and the improvisers have to figure out/make up the story behind the murder.

We’re also partnering with the Alliance Theatre to do a Christmas-themed improv show. Merry *#@%ing Xmas, written by myself and longtime creative collaborator Arlen Konopaki, will include Santa destabilizing the world economy by mass producing goods that nobody really needs, Frosty trying to solve global warming by bringing about nuclear winter, and Scrooge using his time traveling powers to journey to present times and save the day.

And what happens once you move to your new home?
Once the holiday shows close, we’re moving into our new space in the Old Fourth Ward. We plan to open with a bang (literally, there will be fireworks) on New Year’s Eve. Our NYE shows sell out quick, and you don’t want to miss this one!

After we’ve settled into our “forever home” and recovered from an epic “Welcome to 2016” hangover, we’re going to roll out some surprises for the rest of our 20th season including Woman of the Year, a female driven sketch comedy show, and 10 Ways to Ruin Everything, a look at humanity’s worst blunders throughout history.

Tell us about the new venue and what it means for Dad’s Garage.
Transforming a church into a chucklehut has been a huge undertaking, and we haven’t even chosen paint colors yet. After losing our home of 18 years in Inman Park [to make way for the Inman Quarter development], we weren’t quite sure where Dad’s Garage would end up. We definitely could not have done this without the tremendous support of our fans, our community, and even some very generous foundations. All of these groups said that they want to continue a tradition of top-notch comedy and improv in Atlanta. We may not be a Pulitzer Prize-winning theatre, but we still produce work that people want to see in their community.

We are really excited to feel like grownup homeowners. Finally. we can have our own space (no more roommates sharing our stage!) that we can make look and feel perfectly “Dad’s.” This will give us one central location for our shows, our staff and our community to meet up. Hopefully, this means Dad’s Garage will become stronger and more resilient. Unfortunately with great privilege comes great responsibility; this means that we have to take care of overflowing toilets, leaking ceilings, and electrical bills. Yep, we’re totally adults now!

If there’s one thing theaters don’t have – it’s money. You can continue to support us by donating to our theatre, or just coming to see a show (bring friends, too!). Keeping the arts alive in our community means we all have to be involved with organizations we want to thrive.

For more information and to support Dad’s Garage, visit dadsgarage.com

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.