Article: "Beyond the script"

Beyond the script
Evie Hemphill, The Westminster Window

Madcap improv crew finds niche

Teetering on the brink of success or failure might not sound too comfortable, but it's reality of Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Madcap Theater.

And that's all right, because the Madcap crew—and the improvisational comedy that they deliver—seems to thrive on that ever-present risk.

"I think the sheer excitement of pulling off something night after night like that with people you trust - there's really nothing like it, " said Madcap co-owner Russ Faillaci. "It's so fun to entertain people in this type of venue—some nights it's painful, but that just comes with the territory."

Making its advent this summer at the Westminster Promenade, the family-owned improvisational comedy venture is seeing larger streams of patrons giving it a try. In the last month the weekend audiences have started to grow, a trend that may have something to do with the earlier nightfall that autumn brings, Faillaci said.

But it's also evidence that word is getting around, and a show two Saturdays ago marked Madcap's first sell-out crowd.

"World-of-mouth is obviously getting out, so that's been a big thing," Faillaci said. "It's starting to turn into everything we thought it would be."

People are also returning for another round of laughs at the intimate-setting, 160-seat facility. Broomfield resident Garyn Flinn is one such repeat customer, visiting Madcap for her fourth time last week.

"I think, number one, it's just fun, clean humor," Flinn said. "You can be relaxed and enjoy it, not get embarrassed in mixed company."

That standard of tastefulness is one aspect of Madcap that hasn't come about by chance.

"We just wanted to keep our material clean," Faillaci said. "I just think it takes kind of a smarter comedian to deal with something in a clean manner."

The family-friendly nature of Madcap also opens the show up to wider demographics, with the ability to market it to young and old and everywhere in between. Still, roughly 80 percent of patrons are 21 years old and up, Faillaci said.

But whose comedy is it, anyway? It's not all up to the actors. The Madcap crew continually solicits suggestions from audience members in setting up a scene or filling in dialogue. And not all the responses are always appropriate.

The actors take such instances in stride, using a variety of games, themes and settings to deliver each hour-and-a-half show. Adults pay $18 per show, while those under 15 pay $12.

The Promenade location has been a good spot so far for Madcap in their vision of providing an improv option in the north-metro area, according to Faillaci.

"We knew we had to be somewhere where there was a lot of visibility," he said. "We definitely knew we wanted to be in this area, and this was really the (place) that made sense."

The location also appeals to audience members.

"It's nice not to have to go downtown for something like this," said Wheatridge resident Brad Umbaugh.

During daylight and weekday hours, Madcap is quieter but hardly deserted, with the club offering workshops and classes for children and adults on everything from improv to hip-hop. Corporate team-building opportunities are also available.

But above all else, Faillaci said, his hopes are for Madcap to become a venue people think to go to for a special evening out.

"First and foremost we want this place to be known for its improv."

For more information, go to or call 303-460-3854.