RSS Feed
Instant Songwriting

Musician’s Bios

KRIS ANDERSON has performed in improvisational theatre since 1991. After enjoying improv as an audience member for years, Kris became the fifth member of ground-breaking Brisbane improv troupe Out on a Limb, performing mixed short and long-form shows. In 1992 he featured as the musician for Lightning Doubles, a Theatresports-branded improv show making its debut in the first annual Brisbane Comedy Bananza. While away from Australia during 1994-1995, Kris performed regularly with Denver’s Headgames ensemble in Boulder Colorado. Over the last two decades, Kris has featured with every major improv group in Brisbane, including ImproMafia, Theatresports, Out on a Limb, Impro Gladiators, EDGE Improv, and the improv comedy game show Bite the Bucket. Kris teaches musical improv workshops, and accompanies hundreds of Brisbane high school kids each year in the annual Youth Theatresports Festival. In 2011 Kris shared the stage with the country’s best at the 2011 Australian Theatresports National Championships. Kris writes and maintains Musical Hotspot (, the most extensive resource on the internet for actors and musicians working in improvised theatre. Kris’ other musical pursuits have included scoring short films, busking, and performing with originals and covers bands. Kris also publishes short improvised piano pieces at Uncomposed (


JEFF BOUTHIETTE is currently head of the Music Program for Second City in Chicago. He has music directed for improv and sketch comedy extensively in the city of Chicago, including with the Second City National Tour and at sea, Comedysportz, The Comedy Shrine, Chicago Comedy Company, Gayco and others. As an improviser, he was a longtime member of the musical improv troupe Jazz Hands Across America, and currently performs with the Second City Training Center Music Improv House Ensemble, Infinite Sundaes. As an actor, Jeff has performed with Pegasus Players, Hell in a Handbag, Theatre Hikes, Brown Couch, Stage Two, Arts Lanes, One Theatre, and Chicago Kids Company. He played Montel/Jesus in Bailiwick Repertory’s award-winning production of Jerry Springer: The Opera. As a theatrical musical director, Jeff has worked with Theatre Building Chicago, Lil’ Buds Theatre, Stage Left, Victory Gardens Theatre, and Chicago Children’s Theatre. In 2007, Jeff participated in the Johnny Mercer Songwriting Project as one of the nation’s top young songwriters. Jeff is also Artistic Director of Bare Boned Theatre.


ROBBIE ELLIS is a New Zealand composer, performer, musician, human and being. Born in Auckland, he began performing improv theatre in 2001 while still in high school. He has worked extensively with ConArtists in Auckland; The Improvisors in Wellington; and Wellington Improvisation Troupe, primarily as a musician and occasionally as an actor. As of early 2012, he had co-created 77 improvised musicals, including seasons of Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen (sold out, 2010 Adelaide Fringe Festival) and Improv: The Secondary School Musical (Best Comedy, 2009 New Zealand Fringe Festival). He has performed improv all around New Zealand, as well as in Melbourne, Adelaide and Rotterdam. For four years, Robbie worked as a producer and presenter for Radio New Zealand Concert, the fine music station of the national public broadcaster. He is also a composer who has had pieces performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. In January 2012, he moved to Dunedin to take up the University of Otago Mozart Fellowship in Composition. He plans to use his time to write a non-improvised musical. Website:


MIKE DESCOTEAUX is the director of the nationally renown Charles River Creative Arts Program in Boston, MA. He also directs ImprovBoston’s touring company and is a resident musician there. Mike served as head of the Music Program at The Second City Training Center and music director of the Second City ETC stage in Chicago. He has had the privilege of working with Tony Award-winning artists such as Jason Robert Brown, William Finn, Mark Hollmann, and James LaPine. He has “composed” and “conducted” over 1,000 completely improvised musicals with Musical! The Musical, Baby Wants Candy (head music director), I Eat Pandas, Diva (director) and Jazz Hands Across America (artistic director). His original musicals include Sodomites!, Warfield, USA! The Fundamental Skip, The Magic Ofrenda,  This Time, and Ready for Life: a zombie musical. He is the director/creator of the hit satire The Best Church of God and has been seen on NBC, CBS, A&E, and WGN. Mike, a Northwestern grad, has received a Jeff Award, After Dark Award, Paynter Award and was named one of the top young songwriters in the country by the Johnny Mercer/AMTP association. Mike is a member of ASCAP and the Boston Musicians’ Association.


STEPHEN GILBANE has been accompanying improv troupes and teaching improvisers to make up songs on the spot since joining ImprovBoston in 1992, when the troupe (along with Ms. Walker, Adam Felber and others) developed their signature long-form improvised musical format. He was artistic director (1999-2005) of Musical Improv Company, an improvisational troupe that specialized in developing and performing full-length improvised musicals. More recently, he has composed music (and produced cast recordings) for eight of ImprovBoston’s annual Halloween scripted musical Gorefest productions (including 2010’s Cirque du Slaughté, available on iTunes). He has co-written several short musicals (including History Of Nails!, developed improvisationally), is creator of Showstopper! A High-Tech Musical (based on a startup company in the mid-1980’s) and is composer for Pirate Lives (a full-length musical involving Noel Coward characters and pirates, having its planned world premiere in 2012). He attended Berklee College to study film scoring, and composed music for the horror film Bit Parts (Elftwin Films), as well as seven manic Boston 48-Hour Film Project films. Steve is a Java programmer by day to support his often-expensive music habit.


GEORGE GOETSCHEL began his piano playing in early childhood when he would improvise with his father on the accordion. He won first place in trumpet and piano in every competition he entered during his High School and College days. After his schooling at Governors State University, he toured throughout South America and Europe with world renowned musicians. He worked throughout the 70’s and 80’s with bands that shared the stage with Ramsey Lewis and was regularly appearing at such notable clubs as the Jazz Showcase. Mr. Goetschel’s original compositions and improvisations have been featured in shows on NBC-TV and at the famed Improv, iO and Second City Theaters in Chicago.  His solo piano compact disc release, “21 in the Moment” on the Emphasis Music label received rave reviews from the press and public alike. He has since released two more compact discs, “Remembrances” and “Songs of Nature”. Mr. Goetschel has also taught music and drama in the public and private schools for ten years. Currently he teaches music at Chicago Vocational High School in Chicago and teaches privately (piano and trumpet) in Evanston, IL.


RACHEL KAUFMAN is a multi-instrumentalist in NYC who has been playing for improv comedy groups since 1991, and has performed in an insane variety of venues, ranging from playing Gospel piano at a Baptist church in Chicago to playing trombone in the Labor Day Parade on Fifth Avenue. She has played either piano, accordion, or guitar for such groups as Chicago City Limits, The Improvoholics, Comedy Sportz, 8-bar Cut, Off-Off Campus (at the Edinburgh Festival), Atomic Pile (directed by Urinetown composer Mark Hollmann), Burn Manhattan, The Polyannas, The (at Caroline’s Comedy Club), and many others, as well as for numerous groups from all over the USA at the Funny Women Fest 2000 in Chicago. She has also music directed and/or played for well over 250 musicals and cabaret shows all over the world. Rachel can also be seen playing for auditions, classes, improv comedy groups, at restaurants, piano bars, and on cruise ships. She holds a B.A. in Music (and Russian) from the University of Chicago. Contact:


ART KOSHI has done accompanist work for the improvisational comedy group On The Spot (2006 to present), Ballet Hawaii (1996-present), The University of Hawaii Dance Department (2000 to present), & The Pacific Ballet Academy (1997-2000).  His composition work includes the soundtrack for a UH Dance Department Senior Thesis Piece entitled: “Green Blanket Feet” (2010), the musical score for works in Cherry Blossom Cabaret’s “Carnal Carnival” (2011), Femme Capulet (2011), a collaboration with takashi koshi on the soundtrack for the movie Modern Runaway (2011) and is currently composing music for Cherry Blossom Cabaret’s “Last Chance Saloon” (2012). Art’s relationship with improvising music began in the dance classroom.  It was in this setting where he was taught that improvised music was better suited for the unpredictable nature of the class.  Art’s experience in playing for dance classes later led to an improvised musical collaboration with On The Spot.  With On The Spot, Art has performed musically in improvisational theatre festivals such as Honolulu’s Improvaganza (2007-2011), Austin’s Out of Bounds (2009), The Phoenix Improv Festival (2010), The Chicago Improv Festival (2011), and The Seattle Improv Festival (2012).


MICHAEL POLLOCK is in his 10th year as a musical director at The Second City Hollywood Training Center. He also works full-time on various shows at Disneyland and accompanies “Opening Night: The Improvised Musical” each week at IOWest. He is the author of Musical Improv Comedy, Musical Direction for Improv and Sketch Comedy and How to Write Funny Lyrics. His arranging credits include The Drew Carey Show, The Tonight Show, Evening at the Improv, and the Emmy Award-winning Tuesdays With Morrie. He wrote “Remember Tonight and Smile” for Columbia Pictures’ Punchline, starring Tom Hanks and Sally Field, and orchestrated Universal Studios Hollywood’s live Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. He trained at the University of Texas at Austin, Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts and the Grove School of Music. Special thanks to Chandler Coates, who engineered Michael’s piano tracks for this book!


JAMEY ROSEN has been accompanying improvisational theatre, comedy, and spoken word for over 20 years. He has taught courses on improvised singing and improvised accompaniment at the Chicago, Seattle and Miami Improv Festivals and in colleges and theatre schools. Jamey lives in Ontario, Canada.





JOE SAMUEL is a classically trained pianist and violinist having studied music at Royal Holloway University of London.  He has been a professional musician for 15 years, playing in a variety of successful bands on both his electric violin and on keyboard.  He joined The Maydays in 2007 and is their Musical Director, performing regularly in London and Brighton.  He is also the Musical Director of The Treason Show, BAFTA nominated sketch comedy show based in Brighton. Joe runs the website www.musicalimprovcomedy with fellow improviser, Heather Urquhart, producing resources, podcasts and articles related to all things improvised and musical.  We also tour the UK providing workshops, training and facilitation from improv troupes to management teams. Joe’s interest in harmony and analysis has also led him to discovering a new way of teaching and understanding chords and harmony, and he now runs a project called SeeChord which helps students, teachers and songwriters hone their skills. is the hub of this project.


JEFFREY L SHIVAR has been a professional theater musician in Chicago, IL since 1988. He is currently a musician at ComedySportz Chicago, where he served as Musical Director from 1996-2005, and the Comedy Shrine of Aurora, IL. Mr. Shivar has performed music with every major improv group in Chicago, including The Second City Touring Companies, The Annoyance Theater, iO (formerly ImprovOlympic), Noble Fool Theater, and MUSICAL! the Musical. He has worked with children’s theaters, including Emerald City Theater and Gaia Theater, as well as working with the Addison‘s Children’s Theater from 1999-2004. As a composer, Mr. Shivar has created many scores for theatrical productions with WNEP Theater, including the musical The Wicked and the Sexed and Crosscurrents, a wordless play set to music. He has also written music for the aforementioned Addison’s Childern’s Theater and ComedySportz’s Family Series. Mr. Shivar attended the University of Cincinnati, where he studied music composition and theory at U.C.’s College Conservatory of Music. He earned a B.A. in Theater Arts from Wright State University.


FRANK SPITZNAGEL is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music. His National Tours include Peter Pan, A Chorus Line, and Evita. He has played for and musical directed over 50 shows, from Annie to Zorba. Frank was also the musical director for the Chicago City Limits resident company for 9 years, then went on to play many improv classes and all the famous NYC Improv venues. His work has been seen on Comedy Central, in the Aspen Comedy Festival, and in Indie films. Frank is also the accompanist for the Lincoln Center “Meet the Artist” series. He has performed with Ithzak Perlman and scores of Broadway stars.




MARSHALL STERN has been a musician for 40 years, playing drums, bass, rhythm guitar and doing lead and background vocals at one time or another during that span. As a talented songwriter/musician, Marshall worked as a professional songwriter contracted by a subsidiary of Warner Chappel and many of Marshall ‘s songs appear on albums by Nashville recording artists and on other albums across the country and internationally. He is also a professional actor having appeared in many theatrical productions.  Marshall has been performing and teaching improv since 1986 and has received many awards and honors in that field as well. Improv highlights include: receiving a Ruth Sweet Award for excellence in theatrical education, having his Improv troupe chosen to be the first to appear at the prestigious Humana Festival and being voted the best performing arts group in the Nashville Scene Readers poll. Marshall is a former director of The Players Workshop of The Second City. He sings with the Frozen Robins as well and has produced, directed, and performed in the Music City production of MUSICAL! the musical, where he was also the Artistic Director of One Hand Clapping. He is currently Artistic Director of Chicago Improv Associates and part of the duo that produces the Zenprov podcast.


LISA WEBB is originally from St. Louis, and has studied music in Missouri and Texas, receiving her Master’s degree in Composition from North Texas State. A resident of Los Angeles for four years, she wrote and performed music, most notably with the LA Jazz Choir ~ a group which has performed and recorded with Rosemary Clooney, Steve Allen, Bob Hope and Linda Ronstadt among others. Since moving to Nashville, she has pursued a career as a musician and arranger and has songs cut in the U.S., Canada and Europe. She is involved in Artist production and special projects in Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami. She also performs live in Nashville as well as numerous private and Corporate parties throughout the United States.


You must be logged in to post a comment.