Meet Gina Trimarco
By Leslie Moore
Just walking into Uptown Myrtle Beach, home of Carolina Improv Company, is a mini-vacation – the comfortable, intimate, 75-seat theater, located in the Myrtle Beach Mall, is filled with echoes of laughter from the many delighted guests since its opening in 2009. Vivacious and attractive, Gina Trimarco, a Chicago native, is the founder and director of Myrtle Beach’s only improv company, offering a hilarious schedule of performances, as well as improv classes for youth and adults and team building workshops.
Gina, how did you get started in Improv?
Believe it or not, I actually started out as an accounting major in college, mainly to please my parents. It wasn’t long until I changed my major to journalism! I’ve always loved improv – and writing, producing and directing. While I was in school, I studied at The Second City in Chicago, where many Saturday Night Live performers got their start. After college, I got a job doing marketing for the Jenny Jones Show, and, at 23, I started my own marketing agency. What I didn’t know how to do, I learned – I said yes to everything! Eventually, I was head-hunted by IMAX Corporation. This is where I really learned to run a business – and I was able to turn the theater around. My success led to being asked to come to work in Myrtle Beach for the IMAX here.
While I was working here for IMAX, I looked around for improv classes, just to escape reality and have some fun, and found out there was nothing like it in our area. I travelled to Chapel Hill for classes, and my teacher there helped me start teaching improv classes here after I left my job with IMAX. I always knew I would end up with my own business again.
My first class was held in 2008, in Surfside, in what was then the Legends Theater. The classes became so popular I started looking for a permanent place to teach and do corporate training. The marketing manager of the Myrtle Beach Mall approached me about putting a theater in the mall – he had actually taken one of my classes. It was a great move. Currently, we have twenty-one performers that are a part of the company.
What will guests see at a show? Or in a class?
We have had a great summer – our shows have been rated number one on Trip Advisor in Myrtle Beach. There is something for everyone – you can bring your four-year old grandson or your 80 year-old grandmother and both will enjoy it. Audience participation is encouraged – that’s where we get our ideas! People are familiar with the show, Who’s Line Is it Anyway?, and that’s very similar to the type of short form improv we do. We also do long form improv shows that are more play-like—but they’re always different! Improv is an energy boost – we’re creating something out of nothing.
I’ve heard a lot of feedback that I didn’t really expect from the classes. Students have said the classes helped them see life differently – and their life has improved as a result. Those comments are the kind of intrinsic payback that make it all worthwhile, even on the hardest of days.
We know you have an exciting personal event upcoming as well.
Yes, my fiancée, Ted Cligrow, and I are getting married next month. We’ve been together for ten years, so we’ve already made it longer than most couples. The improv group is doing a special show for us – I wanted them to get all the craziness out of the way before the big day. [laughing]
Contact Gina at www.carolinaimprov.com, on Facebook or call 843-597-6393 for information about upcoming shows and classes. Show tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. Beer, wine and soft drinks are available in the theater.
About this writer
- Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.