Andrew Bright (left) and Elijah Tadema perform as Panic Squad, a comedy improv team that holds a virtual show for Abbotsford’s Gallery 7 Theatre on May 7. The team was formed in 1996 in Langley. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Andrew Bright (left) and Elijah Tadema perform as Panic Squad, a comedy improv team that holds a virtual show for Abbotsford’s Gallery 7 Theatre on May 7. The team was formed in 1996 in Langley. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley improv group back to hometown

Show happening in Abbotsford

When a bunch of theatre graduates of Trinity Western University (TWU) formed an improv comedy group in 1996, they had no idea their endeavour would thrill audiences for decades to come.

Even 26 years after the launch, the Panic Squad is standing rock solid, making people across the country laugh hard.

Since their humble beginnings, the crew has performed in every province and many times on cruise ships. Audiences have ranged from less than 50 to more than 35,000. Clients went from local churches and businesses to top Fortune 500 corporations.

It all started in Langley, and now the group is finally back with live performances after two years, not too far from the home city.

Collaborating with Gallery 7 theatre in Abbotsford, the team will present its improv show ‘Panic Squad and Friends’ today (Friday, April 22).

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Audiences can expect an entertaining evening of “side-splitting hilarity” as the Panic Squad will create funny scenes using only the suggestions given to them by the in-person audience, said Ken Hildebrandt, artistic director of Gallery 7 Theatre.

Andrew Bright, a TWU graduate and one of the founding members of the Panic Squad, recalled the time when he first experienced improv at the university and wondered if he would ever be able to do it.

“I remember thinking to myself, wow that looks like so much fun. I wonder if I could do that,” he recalled.

Bright, who now has performed improv thousands of times, will be one of the actors at the April 22 show, joining other comedians like Ryan Kniel, an improviser and improv league coordinator from the University of Victoria.

“It’s a high-level, professional comedy show. I’m so proud of the performance we’ve honed over the years and the incredible actors I have the privilege of performing with,” Bright shared.

Hilderbrandt too appreciated the actors and said that he is excited to have Panic Squad back on the stage to regale audiences with their “improv antics.”

“I have no doubt audiences will have a wonderful experience this time around, as well.”

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Talking about the impact of COVID, Bright shared that the team had to cancel multiple shows last year due to pandemic-related restrictions.

“We’ve always put everything we have into a show, but these days there just seems to be more purpose as we feel ourselves having a role in bringing community and laughter back to people again,” he concluded.

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium, located at 32315 South Fraser Way. Those interested in enjoying from the comfort of their homes can join the livestream.

Tickets for the Abbotsford show range from $12 to $30 and are available at gallery7theatre.com.

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