The Magnet Theater is an improvisational comedy theatre and improv school in New York City. It has shows seven nights a week, many of which are consistently selected as editor's pick of the week in Time Out New York and The Onion.
The Magnet Theater was founded in March 2005 by Armando Diaz, Ed Herbstman and Shannon Manning. Diaz, Manning and Herbstman were friends from Chicago, where they studied under improv guru Del Close at Improv Olympic. Diaz also co-founded the Peoples Improv Theater (PIT), where Herbstman taught. Diaz and Herbstman currently own Magnet Theater.
The Magnet offers performance and writing classes to people of all experience levels. The faculty is headed by Diaz and features The Second City and Improv Olympic alumni Abby Sher, Jean Villepique, and Rachel Hamilton, and Annoyance Theatre alumnus Gary Rudoren. Also teaching are Peter McNerney, Louis Kornfeld, Nick Kanellis, Elana Fishbein, Rick Andrews, Hannah Chase, Michael Lutton, and Artistic Director Megan Gray. The Magnet Theater's shows are made up of performers who have completed their training program. The theater's core curriculum consists of four levels - Level 1: The Principles of Improv, Level 2: Intro to Long Form, Level 3: Long Form Intensive and Level 4: Senior Project. The theater also offers two conservatory classes, which prepare students for performing on Magnet House Teams if they make it through the audition process. These classes are Improv Revue and Team Performance Workshop.
The Magnet is acknowledged as the epicenter of Musical Improvisation in the world. The Musical Improv program was created by Tara Copeland and Frank Spitznagel in the early 2000s and has expanded under the guidance of Director Michael Lutton. The program's curriculum includes four levels of classes leading to auditions for Musical Megawatt weekly house teams. Currently eight musical house teams perform every Tuesday night, creating original improvised musicals, created on-the-spot with the help of a full band. Also known for its popular Magnet Musical Mixer, a free bi-weekly show teaming novice performers and audience members with veteran performers in improvised scenes and musical numbers.
The Magnet is also home to the New York Musical Improv Festival. Celebrating its 8th annual event in October 2016, NYMIF brings together hundreds of musical improvisors and musicians from Austin to Boston, Chicago to L.A., Toronto to Vancouver. Performers have included Baby Wants Candy, Broadway's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Improvised Sondheim Project, and North Coast.
Many Magnet instructors and performers write and lend their voices to The Truth. Frequent appearances on this podcast have been made by Ed Herbstman, Melanie Hoopes, Louis Kornfeld, Chet Siegel, Christian Paluck, Russ Armstrong, Kelly Buttermore, T.J. Mannix, Peter McNerney, Alexis Lambright, Rick Andrews, Matt Weir, Sebastian Conelli, Quinton Loder, Lauren Ashley Smith, and Andy Moskowitz.