The Magnet Theater is an improvisational comedy theatre and improv school in New York City. It has shows seven nights a week, many of which are consistently selected as editor's pick of the week in Time Out New York and The Onion.Make Magnet Theater part of your personalized New York City itinerary using our New York City holiday tool.
The Magnet Theater was founded in March 2005 by Armando Diaz, Ed Herbstman and Shannon Manning. Diaz, Manning and Herbstman were friends from Chicago, where they studied under improv guru Del Close at Improv Olympic. Diaz also co-founded the Peoples Improv Theater (PIT), where Herbstman taught. Diaz and Herbstman currently own Magnet Theater.
The Magnet offers performance and writing classes to people of all experience levels. The faculty is headed by Diaz and features The Second City and Improv Olympic alumni Abby Sher, Jean Villepique, and Rachel Hamilton, and Annoyance Theatre alumnus Gary Rudoren. Also teaching are Peter McNerney, Louis Kornfeld, Nick Kanellis, Elana Fishbein, Rick Andrews, Hannah Chase, Michael Lutton, and Artistic Director Megan Gray. The Magnet Theater's shows are made up of performers who have completed their training program. The theater's core curriculum consists of four levels - Level 1: The Principles of Improv, Level 2: Intro to Long Form, Level 3: Long Form Intensive and Level 4: Senior Project. The theater also offers two conservatory classes, which prepare students for performing on Magnet House Teams if they make it through the audition process. These classes are Improv Revue and Team Performance Workshop.
The Magnet is acknowledged as the epicenter of Musical Improvisation. The Musical Improv program was created by Tara Copeland and Frank Spitznagel in the early 2000s and has expanded under the guidance of Director Michael Lutton. The program's curriculum includes three levels of classes leading to auditions for Musical Megawatt weekly house teams. Currently eight musical house teams perform every Tuesday night, creating original improvised musicals, created on-the-spot with the help of a full band. The theater puts on its Magnet Musical Mixer, a free bi-weekly show teaming novice performers and audience members with veteran performers in improvised scenes and musical numbers.
The Magnet is also home to the New York Musical Improv Festival. Celebrating its 8th annual event in October 2016, NYMIF brings together hundreds of musical improvisors and musicians from Austin to Boston, Chicago to L.A., Toronto to Vancouver. Performers have included Baby Wants Candy, Broadway's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Improvised Sondheim Project, and North Coast.
Many Magnet instructors and performers write and lend their voices to The Truth. Frequent appearances on this podcast have been made by Ed Herbstman, Melanie Hoopes, Louis Kornfeld, Chet Siegel, Christian Paluck, Russ Armstrong, Kelly Buttermore, T.J. Mannix, Peter McNerney, Alexis Lambright, Rick Andrews, Matt Weir, Sebastian Conelli, Quinton Loder, Lauren Ashley Smith, and Andy Moskowitz.
Magnet Theater Reviews
The Magnet Theater is off the beaten track for tourists, but a very worthwhile improv theater to visit. Our first visit to NY and a great place to get started on our vacation. The improv show was fun.... more »
On our second visit, my husband and I laughed throughout almost the entire 1 hour “make up a musical” improv sketch show. Clever songs, great voices, funny movement, great accompaniment band. Can’t.... more »
Absolutely adore the Magnet Theater. I have taken Level 1 Improv, am currently in Level 2. Was hooked after taking their free intro class. The teachers are great and the improv is not about churning out laughs or jokes. It's more about authentic storytelling and allowing the humor to develop organically, which is the kind of comedy I appreciate.
In my opinion, Magnet Theater is, by far, the best comedy theatre in NYC. There's a very intimate, welcoming vibe to the place. The shows are consistently great. And, the improvised musicals are incredible! Always top notch! Their classes are all taught be patient, encouraging, and extremely talented instructors. So, if you're considering taking an improv class...Magnet is it. If you're considering seeing an improv show...Magnet is definitely it!
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