Annoyance signs long-term lease on new Uptown space; moves in late May

After searching for a new theatre for their improv shows and classrooms for almost four years, Annoyance Production founders Mick Napier and Jennifer Estlin leased “ideal theatre space” at 4840 N. Broadway in a former retail furniture store.

Annoyance signed a five-year lease, with a five-year option, said Estlin, production and development director; Napier is artistic director. The new space will be available at the end of May and will renovated at an estimated cost of $60,000 over the summer. A late August-early September opening is planned.

The new facility, for both performances and sellout classes, consists of 4,000 sq. ft. main floor space that will accommodate 90 to 100 seats and a stage. With an 18-foot ceiling height, a mezzanine will be built to house offices, an editing suite for Annoyance’s own film productions and a tech booth.

The search for new space began in 2000 when the Lakeview building housing Annoyance was converted into different usage. Estlin hopes that at some point they will be able to buy the new space. Loft apartments are planned for the upper two floors.

Annoyance’s famous improv classes have been held at St. Alphonse church on the North Side. Classes will move into the Uptown space when renovation is complete in late summer. Teachers are Rebecca and Rick Sohn, Mark Sutton, Kyle Dolan and Josh Walker. Estlin will teach a new on-camera class when once the move is completed.

Estlin anticipates opening with at least one show in late August or early September. “Shows that have been in rehearsal are waiting in the wings for when the new facility opens,” Estlin said. Performances will be held Wednesday to Saturday, with two shows on weekends.

“We’ll have outside ensembles performing on the nights when we’re not,” she noted. “And for the first time, we’re going to present a scripted show, a musical, that’s not written by Annoyance.”

Annoyance has applied for a full tavern license, something new for the theatre company, certainly a way to add to funding resources.

FYI Improv expert Mick Napier’s book, “Improvise, Scene from the Inside Out,” is now hitting bookstores. Published by Heinemann of New Hampshire, the price is $15.95 and also can be ordered via www.annoyancetheatre.com.