Second City planning major expansion of comedy school - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Second City planning major expansion of comedy school

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The training center for Chicago's famous Second City comedy group is expanding.

The Second City Training Center announced Tuesday that it will lease the former AMC Loews movie theater inside the Piper's Alley complex next to its location on the city's North Side. The expansion would double the comedy school's space to include new classrooms, student theaters, voice-over studios and on-camera training areas.

“As our regular student body has grown, it has become increasingly more challenging to find a place and a time for them to simply do their final performance. So adding to the student stages will certainly help with that,” said Kerry Sheahan, President of the Second City Training Center.

“It’s really important that people get stage time, and this will be a great step for making that possible for many more of our students,” said artistic director Matt Hoyde.

While Second City’s professionals perform on the Main Stage, right next door, up to 3,000 students take improv classes. Some hope they'll make it to the stage, while others see the training as useful in everyday life.

The expanded center will be able to handle up to 6,000 students, and they're excited about it.

“I think the part I'm most excited about are the two new performance spaces,” said student Sheena Laird.

“I feel like it's going to be a lot better for the students because they're going to have a little more wiggle room,” said student Hillary.

Second city executives said that doubling the size of the school will not have a negative impact on the important and intimate relationships needed for improv training.

“We are quality control freaks, so we are always going to make sure that the students come first. And that their experience comes first,” Sheehan said.

But audiences will benefit too.

“With the added stages and the additional performance opportunities for students, the public is going to have a greater chance than ever to catch the next wave of great comedians before they become famous,” Hoyde added.

Second City said the space at 230 W. North Ave. should be finished and students can start using it by spring of 2015.

The Second City improv comedy group has been in Chicago for more than 50 years. Its alumni include actors like John Belushi, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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