Wilton High School’s improvisational troupe is set to return to The Little Theater stage Friday, Jan. 26, for the school’s fifth annual Freeplay: A Night of Improv Comedy show.

There will be three shows at the high school’s Little Theater:

  • Friday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 27 at 5 and 8 p.m.

In 2013, English and theater arts teacher Heather DeLude started an improvisation club at the high school with a group of about 10 students who knew about and expressed interest in her professional improvisation background. DeLude is an alumna of the Second City Conservatory in Chicago, where she worked in the late-90s.

During the club’s weekly rehearsals, DeLude taught the students sophisticated improvisational skills she had learned at the Second City Conservatory.

The following year, the club put on the high school’s first Freeplay: A Night of Improv Comedy, where each show is guided by audience participation and no two nights are the same.

More than 70 students auditioned to be part this year’s production, which boasts a cast of 48. This year’s shows will also feature a live band, backstage tech crew and piano player.

The skills gleaned from Freeplay “reach far beyond the stage,” said DeLude. Comedic improvisation teaches students “to embrace failure over and over as the eventual path to success,” she said, which is “especially important for Wilton kids.

“The enormous amount of pressure that exists in their high school often prevents them from taking risks. They often feel they must get perfect grades, in the most challenging classes, to gain admission to the perfect college,” said DeLude.

“In improv, the perfection lies in the imperfection.”

Tickets, to be sold during the lunch waves at the high school and at the door, are $10 for students and $12 for adults. Seating is general admission.