Happy Valley Improv Company
Director of Community Outreach
Andrea’s improv journey began with a Google Search: “Is there such a thing as comedy camp for adults?” That search turned up Camp Improv Utopia, which Andrea attended in the summer of 2016. She realized that improv was what she needed in her life, even though her life was already full of very fun things such as her career in Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State, her family, and her friends. She’s mostly interested in improv as a way to get her husband to do all of the chores. Yes, and!
Nate has been doing improv since 2013. He got his start as a company member at Theatre 99 in Charleston, SC, and quickly fell in love with improv as an art form and a way to build community.
Nate is a communicator at Penn State Global. When he's not doing improv or working, he can be found competing in Smash Ultimate, playing music, or hanging with his cat Murphy Brown.
Nate is also a published author. You can check out his series, the Salastrom Saga, on his website.
James has been studying improv theatre since 2006 and has been part of teams in Massachusetts, California, New York, and now Pennsylvania. James trained with Spectacles Improv Engine, iO West, and ImprovUtopia. Off stage, James runs his own business and enjoys spending time with his wife and dogs.
Former Artistic Director
Dr. Samuel Jaye Tanner is an associate professor of English Education at The University of Iowa. Before that, he was a high school English and Drama teacher for 15 years in the Twin Cities before accepting a position as a professor at Penn State. Sam’s research concerns issues of anti-racism and improvisation. He has been studying and practicing improv theatre for 20 years. Sam was a founding member and artistic director of Happy Valley Improv before moving to Iowa City. Sam is both an academic and creative writer and has written extensively about improv (see: www.samjtanner.com).
Our Company Members
Brandon was raised outside of Harrisburg, Pa. He is gamer by day, but also, a gamer by night. Shortly after moving to the area, his wife gifted him improv lessons after seeing a few Happy Valley Improv shows. Performing and interacting with HVI is a great getaway from his normally introverted lifestyle.
Ed is old enough to remember when having an Atari 2600 meant you had made it. He still has one today. He once took a HVI class and it changed his life. "I hung around long enough and now they can’t get rid of me."
Jackie caught the improv bug after doing a faculty workshop with Happy Valley Improv through the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence at Penn State. She has since led improv workshops in the local community for teachers, professionals, and English language learners. When not teaching for the departments of Applied Linguistics and Communication Arts and Sciences, you might see Jackie leading a sip-and-paint at the Arena Bar and Grill in State College.
Jess got bit by the improv bug when she signed up for her first class with Happy Valley Improv as a way to connect with new people in the community. Prior to doing improv, she had only done scripted theater but now she cannot imagine it any other way. Born and raised in State College, Jess came back to the area for her teaching career. When she’s not doing improv, you can find her reading, baking, playing with her son, or toiling over middle school math problems.
Lauren started doing improv to try something new and push herself out of her comfort zone. She found a great community of creative, thoughtful, giving people and is always excited to imagine and build worlds with them. When she’s not doing improv, Lauren is a fundraiser, maker of all sorts of things, and community enthusiast.
One fateful day thousands of years ago, Luke saw an ad for Happy Valley Improv classes. He stumbled towards the fear of being judged by a crowd of people and embraced it. He fell in love with the immediate flow, connection, and collaboration that the art of improvisation inspires. Does this work, Nate?
Max has had a passion for the performing arts for as long as they can remember, though their only experience on the stage had been through singing and band. When they were brought to a Happy Valley Improv show at the State Theater, it awakened their inner improv comedian, and they couldn’t get enough. Max hopes to bring laughter and joy to an audience through their improvised chaos.
Max spends their free time playing video games, making music, building plastic models, dabbling in software engineering, and gushing over their two Great Danes.
Pedro Ivo Guimarães
Pedro started his current Improv hyper-fixation after seeing a few shows at the Blue Brick Theater and taking the HVI Intro to Improv class in 2022, and now he is in too deep into the cult to get out. When he is not performing on stage, Pedro works as a scientist and product manager helping scientists find new cures for diseases. He also (very irregularly) posts things about plants on the internet and loves hanging out with the three most important things in his life: his wife and two dogs Arya and Luna.
Scott began improv in Happy Valley Improv classes, and he enjoys continuing to learn and practice within the growing improv community in State College. His wife and two kids are thankful he finally found another outlet for telling his bizarre stories.
Director of Community Enrichment
Dawn has been doing improv since 2004 with a specialty in interactive theatre. They have done improv in places spanning from Pennsylvania to New England, and are so proud to be the Director of Community Enrichment for Happy Valley Improv. An original HVI company member, Dawn is known for being quirky, loud, and the perfect person for a heart to heart conversation. When not on the stage, Dawn spends time enjoying all food related tasks, and outdoor activities with their partner and dogs.
Gabby has long been involved in theatre and knew she wanted to get involved in the community when moving to State College. Once she found HVI, she started by taking classes and just never stopped. Gabby is thankful to have found an amazing group of people and is excited to bring happiness and laughter to others in the community. In her free time, you can find Gabby working out, hiking, or walking her Golden Retriever Benny.
Radio personality, video-game streamer, and expert-hotdog maker, Jason is always ready to hop on stage with the squad and share the joy that is improv. Humbled to be a part of such a talented team.
When Katie moved back to State College for her job at Penn State, she found herself searching for a community. Stumbling upon Happy Valley Improv's Improv Practice Group, she rediscovered her love for improv and found a tight-knit, fun-loving community. Now, she is flabbergasted that she gets to create cool characters and build unique worlds with such an awesome and innovative crew of people every week.
Deciding to try something new, Lori took the Level 1 class with HVI and never looked back. She is endlessly grateful to be a part of such a joyful, welcoming community. During the day, Lori teaches in the Communication Arts and Sciences Department at Penn State. She's the mom of two amazing young women and appreciates being able to show them learning and growing and trying new things is always possible.
Mel grew up watching “Whose Line is it Anyway?” but never seriously considered she could be part of the magic of improv until she grew up. One day while sitting in the trunk of a car trying to catch kittens in the wilds behind her work, she asked one Rich De Luca what the heck Happy Valley Improv was and the rest is history.
While not hamming it up on stage, Mel can be found napping, playing video games, reading, geocaching, and eating the delicious food lovingly made by her partner. She also shares her life with her two sassy rabbits (Amadeus & Beatrix) and her two sassy cats (Columbia & Dax).
In the midst of the deep valley that is getting a physics PhD, Miguel ventured into a side quest in search for glory, gold and a third thing. He found himself in the fabled halls of the Penn State Faculty Senate room, where he found a free lunch, provided he listened to some people talk about improv and pedagogy. Charmed by the secret knowledge provided therein, he leveled up his improv skills until he could teach it himself.
Today, he can be found brainstorming ways to bring a “yes, and” mindset to physics education, as well as occasionally streaming cooperative storytelling/improv on the internet.
Rich De Luca
Born and raised in State College, Rich De Luca went to Lock Haven University to learn Computer Science. But not long after, he arrived at the college's theatre department. There he was bitten by a radioactive acting-bug, and mild mannered geek Rich De Luca developed incredible improv powers. He uses these powers to entertain and amuse onlookers and mildly annoy his wife.
Viky started his improv journey after taking classes with Happy Valley Improv. He found immense joy in building characters and worlds out of thin air and on the spot and hasn't looked back since. When not playing a goofy character on stage, Viky can be found playing soccer, reading or cooking.
Our Staff Members
Front of House Manager
Born on his birthday, Corey has moved all around the Centre County area. A graduate of State College Area High School he took a brief hiatus from performing Stand Up Comedy (2005-2021) He may be more familiar to guests as one of the people who help run the front of house. Although he is more experienced with stand up classes he is looking to become more familiar with improv. He is happy to contribute to the community and enjoys every show that he attends.
Meet Kim, the operations manager of Happy Valley Improv! She was pushed into the world of improv tech at HVI’s very first show and never looked back. She's been behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly ever since. When she's not helping create magic on stage, you can find her spending time with her husband, James, or cuddled up with a book and her two furry four-legged friends. By day, Kim is a school psychologist, but by night (and weekend) she's supporting Happy Valley Improv to bring the funnies to audiences everywhere.
Public Relations Manager
Jacob is a student at Penn State studying Public Relations and Theatre. He is also an actor and director for No Refund Theatre. Aside from theatre, he enjoys collecting baseball cards. After graduating next year, he plans to work in the theatre/entertainment industry as a public relations practitioner.
Tyler moved to State College for grad school and stayed because rent is cheap and she's already vaccinated against rabies. Starting as a pre-pandemic improv student, Tyler switched to stand-up and is slowly realizing her dream of being the favored instructor.
When not at the theatre, Tyler can be found rotating through a growing list of hobbies or running late to the theatre.