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Hit and Run Theater and Friends

Hit and Run Theater & Friends performed for the Mendocino Stories & Music Series starting with the Sadie Hawkins Improv Show on February 29, 2008. Since then they have become regulars in the Series, with their improvised fun, games and stories, now at the Hill House Inn of Mendocino.

This group has been a force for local comedy since the late 1970s and has done over 30 original shows, including 10 Mendocino Comedy Festivals, events with Mendocino Stories & Music Series and a variety of improvised spectacles. Their show features Hit and Run veterans Steve Antler, Jill Jahelka, Doug Nunn, Kathy O’Grady, Christine Samas, Dan Sullivan, and Steve Weingarten as well as musical accompanist Laura Derry.

Hit&Run at the Hill House
photo by Ken Krauss

Kathy O’Grady has been a Hit and Runner since their first shows back in the late 1970s. She has been directing both MTC and Jumpstart children’s theatre productions over the past decade. Jill Jahelka, the postmaster of Fort Bragg, is now in her tenth year with Hit and Run while Steve Weingarten has returned to his sculpture studio, outside “Weinchester Cathedral”, south of Fort Bragg. Doug Nunn coaches the Mendocino High School Improv Club each year and migrates to work in German theatres each summer.

The delightful Christine Samas has been working her magic with the company since 2009, while Dan Sullivan, an improviser since the sixth grade and an active member of San Francisco's Tilted Frame Comedy Group, has been working with the group for four years. Voiceover artist Ken Krauss has been with the group since 2010, adding his mellifluous voice and multi-faceted characters to the ensemble. And Laura Derry is a veteran Bay Area Theatresports improviser and musical accompanist who has worked with a variety of groups across Northern California since 1990.

A History

It's origins do indeed remain shrouded in mist, but we can safely say that Hit and Run Theater was actually named in the lead up to the Christmas comedy revue, "Tis the Season" in December1979. Hit and Run veterans acknowledge that Jim Noyes, former group member and local musician made up the name. Jim even added a sound effect, the sound of a car crash and a hectic driveaway that seemed to perfectly fit the attitude of a smartaleck bunch of wannabee sketch comics.

Improvizationsphotos by Ken Krauss

A group of performers, notably Ellen Callas, Antonia Lamb, Kathy O'Grady, Bobby Markels, and others had been meeting on and off since "200 Years of Madness", a bicentennial celebration show in 1976. In July, 1979 they were joined by Doug Chateau, Pamela Stoneham, Richard Albright, and Laura Jean Cardinal for "Happy Birthday Mendocino", an irreverent look at coastal history.

Audience Directionsphotos by Ken Krauss

In the fall of 1979, Jim Noyes, Kay Rudin, and Doug Nunn joined the group for that Christmas revue, which led to the group name and identity. From that point on, rehearsals and shows came more frequently. In 1980 there were shows at the Caspar Inn, followed by "Improvaganza", "Laugh Em Down", "Winestock", and "The Fighting MOMS" in 1981. 1982 was a very productive year, which included the "Oh Velveeta", "National Velveeta", and "The Arnold Vicious Punk Opera". Tracy Burns and Steve Weingarten became group regulars, Matt Rowland supplied set designs, and Richard Feinbop, Margy Crowningshield, John Chamberlin, Louis Demitri, and Louie Callas coalesced as the group's "Orch".

Doug and Ladiesphotos by Ken Krauss

In 1983 Hit and Run Theater worked at making it's rewrite of "The Arnold Vicious Punk Opera" roadworthy. The ensuing "Rockalypse" played in San Francisco and Berkeley for two months in late '83 before collapsing financially. It was quite a ride, but it did lead to contacts with Bay Area comics, culminating in the monthly "LaffFest '84" comedy series which ran from March through September 1984. In the fall of '84, Hit and Run Theater took a new revue "Democracy in Traction" on the road through Northern California, ending in a nice run at the Julian Theater in San Francisco.
Since the mid 1980s, the group has come together semi-regularly even as various members have spread out to work in other locations. Tracy Burns and Doug Nunn formed a double act and worked extensively in Europe and the western USA into the early 90s, Ellen Callas became production manager of the SF Mime Troupe, Harry Rothman was their Tech Director for awhile,   Pamela Stoneham worked with a variety of improv groups in the Bay Area and the Rockies, and Richard Albright, Kathy O'Grady, and Steve Weingarten continued to be involved in various theatrical and creative projects.

Steve, Steve, and Christinephotos by Ken Krauss

In the past decade Hit and Run Theater has been mainly an improv comedy group. We are proud to be a regular performing group with the Mendocino Stories and Music Series and appear regularly for them at the Hill House of Mendocino. 2011 will also find us performing at the Ukiah Playhouse on June 4, and back to the Hill House on June 10 & 11. We are still in contact with many of the old guard and still come together with them for shows and reunions as often as they can be in the same geographical area. We thank our longtime fans and friends for 31 years of support. Let there be laughs!

HitandRunAudiencephotos by Ken Krauss

If you plan to join our company of artists, please see our submission guidelines. HERE


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Hit and Run Theater and Friends


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