Many people think their friends are funny, but this group of friends is taking their humor to the stage.
Members of local improv group the Thrillionaires utilize their friendship and talent to entertain audiences with their unique skill sets.
The Thrillionaires was created with the mindset of bringing together a love for both theater and improv. Typical performances feature scenes that resemble film noir or Shakespeare-style acts, which make up the first half of the show. Following these scenes, the Thrillionaires then perform a musical — complete with a pianist who improvises all the music.
Jake Suazo, co-founder and current owner of the group, said Thrillionaires members wanted to combine their multiple interests into one group.
“We didn’t think anybody had done that before,” Suazo said.
“Some of us were friends beforehand, and some of us were gathered along the way,” Suazo said. “Now we’re all good friends. These have been magical shows. Audiences and stories have been incredible.”
While these friends are performing, they rely heavily on participation from their audience — which is part of what makes performing so rewarding for the actors.
Tanya Quinn, a Thrillionaires group member, said she loves interacting with people who come to watch the group.
“The audience comes wanting to have a good time,” Quinn said. “We love participation. The connection to the audience makes a huge difference, and we hope they appreciate and enjoy our shows.”
According to several Thrillionaires members, one of the most challenging parts of doing improv is trusting the story to end up where is needs to at the end.
“The storytelling can be challenging, because if you have four different people acting then the story can go four different directions,” Quinn said. “It’s a challenge to follow that and have a good story at the end.”
Brett Merritt, another co-founder of the group, said he also finds “letting go” of a scene to be challenging.
“Because we have all been doing improv for a really long time, there are so many good ideas when we start a show,” Merritt said. “These ideas may or may not ever see the light of day. You can’t plan improv, and you just kind of have to listen and be patient, trusting that the scene will go where it needs to go.”
The Thrillionaires consider their chemistry and success on stage to be just one part of the group’s dynamic. Group members attributed much of their success to friendships formed on and off stage.
“I’ve been able to develop real relationships with these actors,” Merritt said. “We spend a lot of time working together, and the friendships forged have lasted a really long time and will continue to last a long time. We have barbecues; our kids play together. We’re like a mini-family.
The Thrillionaires will be at Orem’s SCERA stage for a special Halloween performance on Saturday Oct. 20, promising to leave audiences impressed and entertained.
“Watching is always fun for audiences, even the show is a little weird,” Suazo said.