Triage brings house down

Triage brings house down at Angeline’s
by Tia Duerrmeyer
(The Nugget Newspaper, August 1, 2007)

Angeline’s Bakery and Café brought live theater to Sisters last Thursday night. The Bend-based improvisational group Triage created an evening of audience-driven fun for the large crowd who gathered on the lawn behind the restaurant.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jumpin’ Joyce Restess, who has been a part of the Central Oregon music scene for the past nine years, opened the show, inviting the audience to participate in a sing-along. Known for her improvisation, Restess effectively set the stage for what the evening would bring.

“She likes to just look out and see what people are doing and maybe get some suggestions and just make-up a song,” said Triage’s director Rhonda Ealy.

“I range from melancholy to fun to funk,” said Restess. “I do improvise when I’m playing,” she said, noting that she likes to “pick on people in the audience. Whatever I feel like doing at the time.”

Two Sisters residents, Angela Lund, who works at Angeline’s, and Lisa Fetrow, graced Angeline’s stage on Thursday night. Both are members of Triage and regularly perform with the troupe.

“I’ve been doing improv for three years, and Lisa’s been about four…,” said Lund.

Lund said that Triage’s leader Rhonda Ealy asks the audience for input.

“She (Ealy) might ask the audience to name a place that the people on stage are at. Then, we have to create a skit out of that suggestion,” Lund said. “We (Triage) make things up and make people laugh based on suggestions from the audience.”

The group has a specific group of games from which it draws, but the manner in which those games evolve is always an unknown.

“It’s never the same,” said Lund.

Triage patterns much of its act after that of ABC’s television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway” hosted by Drew Carey.

“The group is based on a lot of the games that they play on that show,” said Lund.

For Fetrow the opportunity to perform with Triage is empowering. Her hope is that the group empowers its audiences.

Triage was founded several years ago by Bend comedy teacher Michelle Johnson.

“We all started taking classes from her, and we all just really took to it and loved it,” Ealy said. When Johnson was called back to her home in Los Angeles for family reasons, “we decided to try to keep going,” Ealy said, and Triage has evolved from there, regularly performing at a wide variety of venues from restaurants, to fund-raisers, to private parties and the like.

Two stand-up comedy acts were also incorporated into Thursday night’s performance, providing Lund the opportunity to show off her talents as a stand-up comedian for the first time ever. Mike Ficher, the trivia comic, also entertained with a stand-up about useless knowledge.

Canaan Canaan, a newcomer to the Central Oregon music scene who was born in Japan, closed the show with original tunes that were just right for dancing.

“She is a young, local singer/songwriter who does original kind of pop-like danceable songs in English and Japanese. We had her finish up… because we know people at Angeline’s really like to dance,” said Ealy.

Canaan Canaan can be heard at www.myspace.com/canaancanaanfuturingmanbou.