Dad’s Garage Theatre Company Moves Into a Divine New Home

Dad’s Garage Theatre Company Moves Into a Divine New Home

This article originally appeared on About Atlanta.

Dad’s Garage Theatre Company is taking you to church. The talented group of improvisational actors just moved into their long-awaited permanent home, none other than the former Atlanta Metropolitan Christian Church.In 2013, the group was forced out of their home of 18 years in Inman Park to make way for a new mixed-use development, Inman Quarter. Thirty months, a temporary residence at nearby 7 Stages and a 100-property-search later, Dad’s Garage struck gold.

“It feels like we’ve grown up and finally bought our own home,” says Dad’s Garage spokesperson Matthew Terrell. According to artistic director Kevin Gillese, who shares the role of CEO with managing director Lara Smith, the new location seemed sent from above: “When we first saw this space, we thought it was perfect—we didn’t have to completely reconfigure the building, [which is key] when you’re renovating on a limited budget.

The bones of it are kind of exactly what we need the bones of our space to be—one big hall and then a bunch of smaller rooms.”

The location of the large, brick house of worship is equally divine. Just a block off bustling and bar-lined Edgewood Avenue, Gillese and co. now find themselves in the heart of Old Fourth Ward, one of Atlanta’s most popular and economically vibrant neighborhoods. Surrounded by locals flocking to and from the BeltLine, area restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the property also includes an ample, dedicated parking lot—Atlanta’s version of the Holy Grail.

But owning a space was never part of the plan. “We had not been looking at a purchase scenario, because we just didn’t think there was any way we could raise that kind of money,” says Gillese.

But they raised a whopping $169,985 of their $116,000 goal, earning Dad’s Garage the title of most successful live theater campaign ever conducted on Kickstarter.

Some might say it was divine intervention, but one look at the campaign page and it’s clear their secret to success lies more in humility and, sometimes, disgrace.

By pledging just $300, for instance, backers received an original song (about any subject) penned by the group’s in-house musicians Sydney Ellis Gaskins and Matt Hobbs. A pledge of $2,000 got you a special workplace appearance by ensemble member and Archer star Amber Nash with the mission of berating your most hated coworkers.

Just the level of hilarity you’d expect from a group of comedic actors—especially this one (Gillese’s personal favorite): For only $7,495, one of Dad’s performers promised to get a tattoo of the [backer’s] choice…on his ass.” And for only $7,495? What a steal.

Thanks to the campaign, fingerprints of the group’s overwhelming community support adorn the new space like lipstick stains after a makeout session. The love is everywhere. Walk through the front doors of the large, brick structure and you land in the heart of the building. The lobby is an open square halved by a long, stool-flanked bar. Pops of chartreuse break up the dark grey walls.

Three markedly different murals adorn the wall to the right. The first—by local artist Killamari—depicts beer cans, one for each sponsor, with punny names like “Hoppy Potter” or “Hoptimus Prime.” The other two are the artful rewards of a $2,500 or $1,000 pledge. In the center of the wall is artist Matt Ketchum’s playful interpretation of the last supper, depicting the recognizable faces of Colin Mochrie (in the center), Aisha Tyler, Scott Adsit and Tim Meadows, among others. To its left is another Killamari mural, this time depicting the saintly faces of $1,000-backers.

And the shows? Just as belly-achingly funny as always.

I wiped away tears, crippled over from uncontrollable laughter, as the actors concocted a series of absurd hijinx with each passing second. As with any ensemble, some actors are more talented than others, but the group is greater than the sum of its parts. The large, new stage offers the perfect setting for their full-contact scenarios, and, perhaps more importantly, brings out in this group a renewed confidence and sense of place. The risers accommodate 200 guests in stadium-style seating, which in an intimate space like this, means there are no bad seats in the house.

I sat and watched as Colin Mochrie joined the troupe for one of their first shows in the new theater; he and a couple ensemble members found themselves in some very compromising positions, which of course, caused my cheeks to ache. I left the show with smeared mascara and a permanent smirk.

Now that’s a service that’s good for the soul.

  • Need to Know: To celebrate the move, expect a special performance: “Dad’s Garage & Friends: New Home Edition” is playing Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout January at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Expect celebrity cameos, including Mark Little (Jan. 14-16), Matt Jones (Badger from “Breaking Bad,” Jan. 22-23) and Harold of Galactus (Jan. 28-30). Starting in February, Tuesdays will host improv student shows and Wednesdays will feature experimental shows, both at 8 p.m. The group’s regular programming will also resume in February, with Extreme Elimination Improv Challenges on Thursdays, CageMatch on Fridays and TheatreSports on Saturdays, all at 10:30 p.m.
  • Location: 569 Ezzard St. SE
  • Tickets:  General admission: $10-$23 online, $17-$30 via phone and at the door; Reserved seating: available for all evenings for an additional $7 online and by phone