In improv comedy, there’s a rule of thumb that’s referred to as “Yes, and …” It means that if you’re onstage, whatever another participant throws your way, you can’t ignore. You must build upon this new information.
Yes, And! Theatrical Co., a local theater group, aims to bring this mindset of inclusivity to each of its shows. Founded a decade ago by Richmond actors Maggie Roop and Matt Shofner, Yes, And! has created and co-produced occasional shows in the past, including stagings of “Riding the Bull,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and “Venus in Fur.” Yes, And! has also produced Ghost Light After Parties — open mic piano bar events — and its Cover to Cover series, where singers and musicians cover a beloved album from start to finish.
Now, the company has launched its first season as a producing theater company, creating a full slate of shows on its own.
“We always knew that becoming a producing theater company was an option, but we just weren’t sure if that was our niche yet,” says Roop, the company’s founding artistic director.
The shift began when Roop and Shofner, the company’s executive director, were approached by Nicole Morris-Anastasi just before the pandemic hit about expanding their efforts. Last year, Yes, And! received its 501c3 status; with local theater returning to some semblance of normalcy, the trio decided it was time to launch a full season.
On Aug. 6, Yes, And! staged a “Cover to Cover” performance of Heart’s 1975 debut album “Dreamboat Annie” at Dogwood Dell.
“That was incredible,” says Morris-Anastasi, the company’s managing director. “We had a really lively audience at the Dell. The singers were really feeling it.”
Yes, And! currently hosts its Ghost Light After Parties at Chez Foushee every second Friday of the month, including tonight. Often referred to as “GLAP,” Ghost Light After Party is hosted by Roop and Shofner; any attendee can sing a song accompanied by a live piano player.
“Folks are encouraged to come in and enjoy however they want,” Roop says. “They can grab a mic and sing a song and get to feel like a star.”
On Saturday, Yes, And! will stage a Cover to Cover version of Erykah Badu’s 1997 album “Live” at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.
“I heard a clip the other night from rehearsal and I got goosebumps,” Morris-Anastasi says.
Roop says that storytelling is at the heart of all their efforts.
“I’m very passionate about keeping the story and the text front and center,” she says. “That’s what we’re always coming from when we pick any material, whether that’s an album that we’re covering or a play that we’re producing.”
Ghost Light After Party – Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Dec. 9
Chez Foushee, 2 E. Grace St., 23219.
Cover to Cover – “Live” by Erykah Badu
Released in fall 1997, this album quickly went double platinum, and features the radio hit “Tyrone.” This free show will be performed by vocalists Zakiyyah Jackson, Katrinah Carol Lewis and Jessi Johnson Peterson, accompanied by Trunk Show Band with special guests from Weekend Plans. The album will be performed in its entirety from start to finish, with an encore of some of Badu’s greatest hits.
Sept. 10. 7-9 p.m. at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, 2410 Ownby Lane, 23220.
You Choose! A Jukebox Cabaret
In this novel mashup of an improv game show, a talk show and a cabaret, performers will offer a quick sampling of three tunes and audiences will vote on which song they want to hear through an app.
“You’re going to get a cabaret that was put together on the spot,” Morris-Anastasi says. “The singers aren’t going to know until right beforehand.”
The event is a fundraiser for Yes, And!
Sept. 25. 8-10 p.m. at the Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St., 23221.
Cover to Cover – “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”
In this interactive screening of the cult classic film, a live cast and band will perform the movie’s soundtrack in sync with the film. Yes, And! will provide moviegoers with bags filled with Byrd Theatre-sanctioned props for the audience participation elements of the show.
Oct. 30. 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. at the Byrd Theatre, 2908 W. Cary St., 23221.
“Placebo” by Melissa James Gibson
In this comedy, a woman is working on a placebo-controlled study of a new female arousal drug. As her determination to get the drug approved begins to spill over into her personal life, lines get blurred about what is real and what is artificial.
“It’s a super smart, fun, quippy play,” says Roop, who will direct.
Feb. 2-25 at Contrast RVA, 1200 McDonough St. Suite 101, 23224.
“The Light” by Loy A. Webb
In this two-person drama, a surprise proposal gift puts the future of an engaged couple’s relationship in jeopardy as they must confront a secret from the past.
May 4-27 at Firehouse Theatre, 1609 W. Broad St., 23220.
For more information, visit yesandrva.org.