Happy Valley Improv will open a new venue dedicated to improv comedy in downtown State College, the group announced on Monday.
The Blue Brick Theatre will be located at 209 W. Calder Way. The location is the former home of The Makery, which moved nearby to 123 S. Fraser St. in April.
“We’re thrilled to take this next step in building our community and small business,” James Tierney, Happy Valley Improv co-founder and business manager, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to see what cool comedy events we can do with our growing community at the theatre.”
Billed as State College’s premier improv company, Happy Valley Improv will host regular improv comedy shows as well as comedy open mic nights, comedy classes and workshops at the venue.
“We are always searching for new and unique experiences to bring to our community and live comedy certainly fits the bill,” Lee Anne Jefferies, executive director of the State College Downtown Improvement District, said. “We welcome Happy Valley Improv to Downtown State College and look forward to pulling up a seat at the Blue Brick Theatre.”
To celebrate the new theater, Happy Valley Improv is offering free tickets to a future show to those who sign up for the mailing list at www.bluebricktheatre.com.
The “Blue Brick” name comes from improv exercises the group uses during practices and workshops.
“We talk about moving around a blue ball of energy,” Sam Tanner, one of the company’s artistic directors and co-owners, said. “It’s about sharing energy, making sure the group succeeds. We plan on bringing that same attitude to the Blue Brick Theatre and Downtown State College.”
In the coming weeks, the group will have invite-only events and hopes to have a grand opening July 9-10.
The first scheduled in-person events at the theater are Happy Valley Improv’s annual youth summer camps. Those include an improv camp for high school students and one for middle school students, as well as a new high school standup comedy camp. The camps start the week of June 21 and more information is available at www.happyvalleyimprov.com/summer-camps.html.
“It might seem like odd timing, embarking on a business venture while we are in the throes of a global pandemic, but we wanted to hit the ground running and have something exciting to look forward to,” Andrea McCloskey, Happy Valley Improv founder and community relations director, said. “I know I’ve missed being out and about, and I think other people will be eager to get out and have fun.”
Since its founding in 2017, Happy Valley Improv has called several locations home, including The State Theatre, where the group started out. They have also partnered with The State Theatre, 3 Dots Downtown, and the Performing Arts School of Central Pennsylvania to offer regular shows, classes, workshops and community events.
“We can’t thank The State Theatre enough for everything they’ve done for us,” Nathan Rufo, co-artistic director and co-founder, said. “We are excited to continue to work with The State Theatre and our other partners to make the arts in State College even better.”
Vern Squier, president and CEO of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County, said the theater is a welcome enhancement to the local community.
“We know that the quality of life—especially the live/work/play balance—is an often cited reason for residents’ happiness and also why they choose to live in this area,” Squier said. “Happy Valley Improv’s new location in downtown State College will be an enjoyable addition to our growing arts atmosphere.”
“Downtown State College finally has a home for local comedy,” Tierney added. “We can’t wait.”