HHS senior improv team wins spot at Nationals with gold at regional event


Huntsville High School’s improv teams had a stellar showing at the Canadian Improv Games (CIG) Regionals in Sudbury with both the junior Team Bravo Squad and senior Team SNO Storm making it to the final night. The senior team took gold and will be heading to Ottawa for the CIG Nationals from April 19-22; the junior team placed fourth overall.

It’s a remarkable achievement for both teams, the seniors (Couper Ebbs-Picken, Piers Hancock, Ethan Hunter, Melina Lisi-Orfao, Grace Murphy, Sophie Nickerson, Brittney Ransome, and Colin Welsh) for their second win in as many years and the juniors (Meeda Berg, Oliver Byl, Millie Cassie-Batchelor, Dylan Jongers, John McBrien, Luke Murphy, Aria Platts-Boyle, Jordan Ross) for a fourth place finish with a team comprising mostly grade nine students.

In competition, teams have a mere 15 seconds to huddle after they’ve been given instructions by the referee for their four-minute scene, which falls into one of five categories (called events): character, theme, story, life and style. Each team must compete in four of the five events – life and theme are mandatory – and receives scores based on their performance.

In the final round, HHS SNO Storm walked away with a winning 907 points – nine points ahead of BMLSS. HHS Bravo Squad earned 817 points for a fourth place finish.

Grade nine student and member of Team Bravo Squad Oliver Byl tried out for the improv team in part because he’s enjoyed school plays in the past – especially when he gets to play humorous roles – and because he enjoys the comedy improv show Whose Line Is It Anyway? He says Team Bravo Squad worked hard to practice unique frameworks for the events the improv teams must participate in.

After two-and-a-half days of workshops and preliminary rounds, Byl says his team was tired and a bit off by the time the finals arrived. “I think we were not as good as on Friday night when we got into the finals. We didn’t do as well in several different areas, probably because of nerves.”

HHS Bravo Squad (Photo via @HuntsvilleHS on Twitter)

HHS Bravo Squad (Photo via @HuntsvilleHS on Twitter)

Grade 12 student and member of SNO Storm Melina Lisi-Orfao auditioned for the improv team in grade nine and says the experience has changed her life. “When I first started I was an introvert and I was extremely shy. Being part of improve helped me come out of my shell – I can speak in public now and it has helped me become more independent and work in a group,” she says. She has been asked to volunteer in the Sudbury region for the Canadian Improv Games if she’s accepted into her preferred post-secondary program.

She says improv is a positive sport. “I believe it’s the most positive and friendly type of competition anyone will ever be part of. In most competitions, people just want to win, win, win, but in improv we make friendships that last a lifetime. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”

The Canadian Improv Games Nationals will be held April 19-22 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.


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  1. As father of one of the SNO Storm team members, I’ve been able to watch these young people for 4 years now, and I have been blown away by the growth I see in them all, as people as well as actors. The Canadian Improv Games pledge contains the phrase “come together in the spirit of loving competition” and these young people live that.

    They are intensely competitive, yet they love and support their teammates and their competitors from other schools across this great country. I am proud of them all!

    If you’ve never experienced what CIG Improv is about, make sure to get to the fund raising night coming up soon. You’ll be able to learn first hand why you should make the trip to Ottawa in April to see the National competition!

    Let it SNO! Let it SNO! Let it SNO!

  2. Congratulations Coach Kim Russel Brooks, a marvellous reflection of your continuous commitment to your students and love of the arts.

  3. Andrew Wagner-Chazalon on

    I’ve been able to watch a lot of improv and get to know quite a few improvisers in the past few years, as my own children have competed for BMLSS.
    Parents, encourage your children to take it up! Improv is a fantastic place for creative kids, and the Canadian Improv Games has done a remarkable job of building an environment that’s both competitive and supportive. There aren’t too many sports or competitions where you’d see kids from different schools doing workshops together in the afternoon, cheering for each other in the evening with genuine enthusiasm, and still doing their very best to win.
    Sno Storm deserved the gold in Sudbury — they played extremely well. Best of luck at nationals! And Bravo Squad was a surprise and delight — can’t wait to see what these grade nine students are like in three or four years.

  4. Sandy McLennan on

    Congratulations to Kim Russel-Brooks for leading this positive and helpful activity for young people, and to those young people for participating and growing

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