Second City to invade Valentine TheatreWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachel Miller was a music performance student in college who — wait for it — majored in the oboe. Really. And she minored in woodwinds.
Her life changed when she moved to the Windy City and a friend took her to see the Second City.
“By the end of that show, he looked at me and said, ‘You should be up there,’ ” Miller said. “He made me pinky swear that I would take a class.”
She signed up for a beginner’s class at the Second City Training Center. Then she was hooked. She took classes at the center and studied at the Annoyance Theatre and iO (formerly the Improv Olympics).
“I think I was silly but serious as a child and definitely am sillier the older I get,” she said during a call from her Chicago home.
“My dad and I were always night owls, and he would let me stay up with him and watch ‘Saturday Night Live’ and would give me records. He’s a minister, so has a great sense of humor, but really is a big advocate for storytelling, so he would give my brother and I albums like Bill Cosby, The Smothers Brothers,” Miller recalled. “I was always listening to this stuff and absorbing it.”
She’s been with Second City since 2006.
“That Second City name, because it has such a history, people trust that name, they trust that they’re coming to see something, and then we get to provide that funny for people,” she said.
Miller and four actors with a Second City touring company will bring “Fair and Unbalanced” to the Valentine Theatre for an 8 p.m. show March 4. Tickets are $35, $27 and $20.
“The Second City has been around since 1959,” she said. “There’ll be quite a bit of archive material in the show. We also do quite a bit of improvisation, and there’ll be some things we’ve written ourselves.”
The club has been a star machine: John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Bonnie Hunt, Shelley Long, Dan Castellaneta, Steve Carrell, Amy Sedaris.
“Mike [Kosinski] and I do a scene that was written by Tina Fey and Scott Adsit, who are both a part of ‘30 Rock,’ ” Miller said of “Fair and Unbalanced.” “We have a scene by one of the writers for ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ a fellow named Joe Kelly, and, actually, that scene was written with Jason Sudeikis.”
Miller did know Second City matriarch Joyce Sloane, who nurtured the careers of many during her 49 years with the club. Sloane, 80, died Feb. 3.
“I learned from her that everything can be family and that what we do is work in an ensemble, which is kind of an extended family. Sometimes that means they’re your best friends, and sometimes that means you don’t get along, but they’re always family, and you support them however you can.”
Tags: Amy Sedaris, Bill Murray, Bonnie Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Dan Castellaneta, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, John Candy, Second City, Shelley Long, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, Valentine Theatre, Vicki L. Kroll