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Something Dada ends 13 months of homelessness tonight, when the local comedy troupe unveils its new stage near Playhouse Square. For the original members of the 12-year-old ensemble, the move marks a “rebirth” for Cleveland’s improvisational comedy scene. “We didn’t want to live in the glory days by letting it fall apart,” says Russel Stich, Dada’s general manager.

The 11 cast members shuttered their old home on West Sixth Street about a year ago, after they fell behind in rent payments. Thieves also broke in and filched $2,000 from a safe. Besides, their former theater had leaky roofs, faulty plumbing, and unsavory neighbors. “When we started, there was nothing on West Sixth,” says Stich. “It changed around us. It really wasn’t our ideal crowd anymore. We were tired of the [people] who got dressed up, stood in line, and hit on the girls.”

A home near the theater district better fits the troupe’s mission of bolstering the careers of young comedians in a venue that promotes artistic growth. Since Something Dada’s founding in 1994, at least 75 alumni have moved on to big-name comedy clubs in New York, L.A., and Chicago. Stich himself has taught improvisation at the Beck Center and starred as the pot-smoking best man with a pregnant girlfriend in the Playhouse’s audience-participation fave Tony & Tina’s Wedding. “I never would have gotten the part to improvise with people for two hours if I hadn’t done Dada first,” he says.

Although the group has relocated, the cast remains committed to off-the-cuff games and skits inspired by one-word suggestions from the audience. “We feed on it and trust each other onstage,” says Stich. “We sometimes don’t know where we’re going with it, but we’re gonna end up there together.”
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