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The Whethermen give a crowd-pleasing performance for Family Weekend

Returning to the stage after a long hiatus, the group delivered a strong performance

<p>The group took the stage and made it clear they were ready to deliver a fun and engaging performance for a memorable day.</p>

The group took the stage and made it clear they were ready to deliver a fun and engaging performance for a memorable day.

After a long hiatus from performing live, The Whethermen held a free show in Newcomb Theater on Saturday afternoon for a packed audience. The theater was filled with enthusiastic parents, siblings and other family members dressed in orange and blue ready to see the University’s premiere improv group during Family Weekend. Performers made an entrance as they ran up through the crowd to eager applause. As the group took the stage, they made it clear they were ready to deliver a fun performance for a memorable day. 

The audience was immediately laughing by the first sketch, where the three performers had to quickly change their attitudes to the audience prompt when a bell was rung. Even at the will of the bell, it was clear the performers were well-prepared to improvise and excellent at playing off of each other as they turned the audience prompt of corn into an ever-changing story. It was impressive improvisation considering the immediate shifts that the bell imposed, making the performers’ reactions even funnier. The group started off strong from a very simple prompt and never lost the momentum in the sketches after. 

Another sketch that incorporated the bell had performers assuming new characters after every ring. At a moment’s notice, performers had to swap between a legless pirate captain, a parrot and a beach trespasser after the audience chose the beach as a location. The other notable sketches had the cast members performing Oscar-winning moments from the made-up movie “Six Hours and Half a Jar of Peanut Butter” and having performers play dead at a hospital, gym or a circus. The cast members handled the variety well as they improvised unique scenarios for each.

Considering how long The Whethermen had gone without performing live, Anna Brule — a third-year College student and Whethermen cast member — thought everything went according to plan.

“I think the show went really well,” Brule said. “We’re always kind of nervous, especially after coming out of a year and a half of not being able to do shows, but I think we’re all really satisfied with the whole thing.” 

A standout sketch, based on the audience’s laughter, came from the performers having to act out a scene in a canyon with a unique twist. The performers were put on a strict vernacular budget, with one performer limited to 18 words while another was stuck with only two. What resulted was one of the most dynamic short sketches, where the cast members with the most words helped each other improvise a hilarious story with quick two-word interjections that always brought a comic punch to the scene.  

However, the longest and most impressive sketch was left for last. The Whethermen invited a volunteer on stage — second-year College student Charles Ellison IV — to describe his day while the whole cast meticulously re-enacted and parodied everything he said.

It was an experience Ellison had a lot of fun with after reflecting on seeing his life on stage.

“It was better than I’ve ever seen it with my own eyes,” Ellison said. “I mean, it was hilarious, and being able to have my parents next to me watching a comical interpretation of my experience at U.Va. was just too funny.”

Other than the consistent laughs from the audience, what stood out in this sketch was the incredible cohesion between the cast members. Each cast member excelled with their own improv, but they were also able to effectively pull together a massive sketch. While the sketch appeared effortless to audience members, Brule explained how difficult this cohesion was to achieve.

“I think our True Story went amazing,” Brule said. “In practice we had been kind of nervous because some of them fell flat, but this one was amazing. And big shout out to Charles because he gave a really funny day that we could play off of.”

After a standing ovation, it was clear The Whethermen used their time away from the stage well. Every cast member was able to pull a genuine laugh from the audience, and everyone in attendance seemed to have a great time. It was a stellar performance from a well-prepared and tight-knit group that brought smiles to the faces of both students and their families.