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Ambitious Armada performs for amused Californians

Photo courtesy of Amanda Johnstone

Members of Ambidextrous Armada lounge in the B'Nai Brith Synagogue in Tustin, Calif., after their performance there last weekend. Clockwise from front left: theater arts senior Jon Johnson, communication senior Adam Berkowitz, alumnus Alan Trammel, media arts freshman Amanda Johnstone, sociology sophomore Stacy Sherman, East Asian studies senior Nanna Ogburn and Eric Allen, a senior majoring in English.

By Lauren Eichenauer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Feb. 5, 2002

UA's own Ambidextrous Armada has gone the distance.

For three years, the comedy troupe performed its comedic routines in The Cellar in the old Memorial Student Union. Just this weekend, the group took a chance and crossed state lines.

Tustin, Calif. is home to the Congregation B'Nai Israel, a large synagogue with hundreds of followers.

For some time, the members of the congregation had anticipated the group's arrival. They greeted the Armada with money in hand.

Group members expressed excitement about the trip before they departed for California.

"It will get us paid and give us an opportunity to perform in front of a completely different audience," group founder Adam Berkowitz, a communication senior, said in an e-mail interview. "To be able to look back and see something that was once just an idea in your head, and see that it's been around for three years, is phenomenal."

Stacy Sherman, a sociology sophomore and troupe member, coordinated the trip. A family member of Sherman's agreed to arrange the visit, complete with advertising, payment and a place to stay.

"It was such an incredible offer, we gladly accepted," Sherman said.

Of the eight group members, seven crossed the border, including Sherman, Berkowitz, East Asian Studies senior Nanna Ogburn, media arts freshman Amanda Johnstone, theater arts senior Jon Johnson, alumnus Alan Trammel and Eric Allen, a senior majoring in English.

As far as their performance is concerned, Sherman said he believes they knocked some socks off all the way to the Laundromat.

"It went really well," Sherman said. "It was our first two-hour show, versus one hour. While it was exhausting, we had 120 people in the audience and we really kept them laughing."

This is the Armada's first touring gig and second paying gig at $400.

Sherman confirmed that the group uses the cash for good.

"We put it towards gas and transportation and making shirts. Anything left over goes for flyers, publicity and props," she said.

While Berkowitz has reveled in seeing his group flourish over the years, he admitted recently that the experience has not always been a barrel of laughs.

"I'm glad to see the group still kicking, but unfortunately we have been struggling with attracting an audience since the demise of The Cellar," Berkowitz stated.

Noting competition from The Charles Darwin Experience, Berkowitz added, "I have not seen their recent lineup, so I can't comment on how they are now. I do recall seeing (their) shows in which they were very on, and a couple others where they were just having a bad night."

The members agree on the goal of their machine, which is to make others aware of their existence and show audiences a good time.

"We at the Ambidextrous Armada would like to be that stress outlet for students and UA affiliates," Berkowitz stated. "We hope to see many people there to lighten up their days, and ours."

The Ambidextrous Armada performs every Thursday at 10 p.m. in Room 100 of Social Sciences.


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