The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe
Stevie Ray’s Touring Company
School of Improv Faculty
Stevie Ray and Pamela Mayne first began “making it up as they go” when they opened Stevie Ray’s comedy theatre & cabaret in 1989 at 28th & Hennepin Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis. At the time, it was the only comedy variety club in the Twin Cities, offering performers a chance to develop new styles of comedy; improvisation, one-person comedy shows, sketch revues, original comedy plays, and stand-up.
The training center of Stevie Ray’s Improv Company, The School of Improv, opened with the philosophy that everyone should have the chance to learn the skills of improvisation for either the stage or personal growth. So, rather than focus on acting, the school sought to help people from all walks of life. Soon after, the school added classes in stand-up comedy, professional presentation, and other related skills.
1989 was also the year the company began offering services in keynote speaking and customized workshops for companies and organizations. To date, Stevie Ray and Stevie Ray’s Certified Trainers™ have conducted workshops for over 1000 clients; from Fortune 500 companies to small organizations. Workshop topics include communication skills, team management, sales and persuasion, leadership, professional networking, and innovative thinking.
In 1991, the company had outgrown the Uptown venue, so they moved to 1819 Nicollet Avenue near downtown Minneapolis to build a new theatre and classroom space. It was during this time that Stevie Ray’s began producing holiday shows at various Twin Cities theatres including The Hennepin Center for the Arts and the Minneapolis Theatre Garage. Holiday shows included Walking in a Winter Wonder Bra, Dot Com All Ye Faithful, The Full Santy, and Y2K: How the Glitch Stole Christmas. These shows combined improv, sketches, and music and were directed by Pamela Mayne, who had assumed the role of Artistic Director.
In 1992, Stevie Ray’s began Improv in the Park, free outdoor comedy shows at the Lake Harriet Rose Gardens featuring a combination of members of The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe as well as students from the School of Improv. Improv in the Park continued for 18 years until closing in 2010 and entertained hundreds of thousands of audiences.
In 1995, the company closed the Nicollet Avenue theatre to focus on corporate entertainment, corporate services, the School of Improv, and Improv in the Park. In the ensuing years the company performed at venues such as Knucklehead’s Comedy Club at the Mall of America, Bogart’s Nightclub in Apple Valley, the Suburban World in Uptown, and an eight-year run at the Sheraton Hotel in Bloomington.
In 1996 and 1999, the company produced the Minneapolis Improv Festival, two national festivals attracting troupes from across the country to a week of workshops and performances at the Mall of America. These were the first improv festivals ever to be held in Minnesota.
In 1997 Stevie Ray became a columnist for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Newspaper. His column, Improvising Business, has since been nationally syndicated to 41 markets the Business Journal serves. He has since become the longest running local columnist for the newspaper.
In 2010 Stevie Ray’s Improv Company was approached by The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres to permanently move its operations to the Chanhassen. The Playhouse Theatre became Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret. Shows feature The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe each weekend; Pamela Mayne also produced and directed a 2010 holiday show at the cabaret, O Little Town of Chanhassen.
In 2014, Stevie Ray’s Improv Company celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a gala event at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres that featured performers from throughout its 25 year history. Today, Pamela continues to act as Artistic Director, in charge of Stevie Ray’s Comedy Cabaret, and is also the Director of the School of Improv. Stevie is Executive Director and focuses on keynote presentations and corporate training programs. Besides Stevie and Pamela, the company includes: The Stevie Ray’s Comedy Troupe, Stevie Ray’s Touring Company, Stevie Ray’s Certified Trainers™, and faculty for the School of Improv.