HELD2getherHELD2gether

NEVER FEAR! WE'RE PROS!

The H2G performance troupe is made up of very talented performers from a variety of backgrounds. What do they have in common? Each has completed H2G’s improv training program, are between 3’7” and 7’4” tall, and can be seen performing throughout Long Beach and Southern California.

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TRACY ARAUJO

Tracy, along with her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are native Angelenos and their family has been in L.A. since before California was a state, so basically, she believes she’s better than everyone else (which may explain her lack of friends). Having worked with lawyers for the past 25 years, Tracy was in danger of losing all semblance of a personality, so she decided to start taking improv classes to confirm that she still had a pulse. Tracy has never taken any acting classes but believes that pretending to think her husband is funny should count for something.  Tracy has four cats and is currently studying the link between crazy cat ladies and the TV show Hoarders.

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CHRIS BRENNAN

Chris is thrilled that such a long and windy road has brought him to the Held2Gether family! Wrongfully imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, Chris made the best out of his time behind bars by befriending Morgan Freeman and building a prison library, before finally escaping to the cozy confines of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Enjoying his new found freedom, Chris decided to take up the sport of boxing, culminating in a thrilling defeat of legendary pugilistic champion Apollo Creed. When not improvising or lying, Chris fronts the Irish rock outfit, U2 and spends time with his father, celebrated Hollywood “bad boy”, Darth Vader. Should you want to get his attention, Chris also answers to Clancy, Joe, Goose and “Hey Chief”. Chris is passionate about Human Rights and fancy pretzels, and has never met a bagel dog he didn’t like.

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BETH CUNNINGHAM

Beth is a Californian with Oklahoman and Bostonian blood. Such genetics caused multiple identity crises from an early age, so theater was a logical solution. In college, Beth put theater aside and decided to become an elementary school teacher so she could perform for a captive audience Monday through Friday; there may have been some other reasons, but she forgets. Beth took her first Held2gether class in 2011 and fell in love with improv and Mr. Darren Held himself.  She has since become a fixture in H2g Sketch Comedy shows and at the Groundlings. For now, Beth has decided to focus primarily on her love for improv and keep her relationship with Mr. Held professional.

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BRIAN DUARTE

Brian was born to a Mexican/German family (Buenos Tag!) on the frozen steppes of Syracuse, New York. Upon graduating college he left the 10-month long winters of upstate NY, and like millions of others, was drawn to the warmth, bright lights, and glamour of Hollywood to make his mark on the exciting world of commercial banking. Brian started out his banking and stage career facilitating bank training classes and reached the pinnacle of the training world by becoming the 5-time winner of the Ambien award by consistently putting classes to sleep. After discovering improv through Held2gether and studying with the Long Beach Playhouse, Brian found that it was more fulfilling to perform for the conscious.

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EMILY FORMENTINI

Emily sprang forth onto this planet amongst cacti and javelinas on a sunny summer afternoon in Tucson, Arizona. She was then taken home and proceeded to live in the same room until she flew the nest to go to college a whole 1.8 miles away. Alas, 6 years – and a degree in architecture later – she made the courageous and exciting move to southern California…. to the Inland Empire…. but THEN to Long Beach, where she now happily calls home. On another life changing sunny summer afternoon she decided to take an improv class instead of jazz dance for grown ups and has never looked back. When not acting like a fool in class or on stage, Emily spends her time acting like a fool building window displays, weaving tapestries, sewing quilts and making other various things.

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DARREN HELD

Darren was cemented into the entertainment industry when he was asked to become Justin Timberlake’s body double. After numerous female maulings and assassination attempts, he decided it was much safer to direct other unsuspecting people into peril on stage. His favorite hobbies are broccoli separating, skipping to “Come on Eileen” and hugging. He’s found all of these things to be extremely helpful when directing his troupe, particularly on the days when Mercury is in retrograde.

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BRIGETTE HECHT

Brigette was born in a little shanty town called Hollywood California. Ever since she was a child she demanded attention from her hesitant family members and asked them to watch her dance, sing and improv a variety of songs. As she grew older she continued to entertain friends and classmates (to the dismay of her teachers). In middle school she began writing and directing skits and plays for classroom projects and fell in love with the arts. After finishing college, she put aside her business degree to become an elementary school teacher. She now uses her creativity to teach children subjects by improvising and writing songs to help them remember difficult formulas, procedures or rules for math. A few years ago, she saw a deal for an improv class and has been hooked ever since. When Brigette isn’t teaching third graders she delves into her creative side as a jewelry designer, a photographer, a producer, an improv performer, makeup artist and other random creative endeavors.

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AIMEE LARUE

Aimee has spent her life as a resident of the great City of Long Beach (woot woot!), and never intends to live anywhere else. She began her acting career at a young age by performing in her church’s annual Christmas Pageants, but her passion for acting really flared as she entered high school. It was then, during a very memorable turn as Belinda/Flavia in the production ofNoises Off, that she realized her love of making people laugh (on purpose). But after graduation, the sad reality of “real life” cast a dark shadow on things like playing dress up and make believe. Aimee adopted a daytime alter ego as an account manager for an insurance brokerage in Orange County, specializing in insurance for Architects and Engineers. But she could never fully suppress the performing bug, so she took up her mantle of hilarity again in 2011 when she found Held2Gether improv classes, and has been mainlining giggles directly into her veins ever since.

ANN MANTEL

Ann has underwear older than many of her troupe members. Yet she still refuses to act her age.  Settled here in Long Beach for seven years, Ann is thrilled to have found her kooky comrades of Held2Gether.   Ann spent her early years in New York City where for 35 years, she wore mostly black, got everywhere on the  Subway and leased a succession of rent stabilized apartments.  Now in California, Ann can be seen wearing actual colors.  On the rare occasion that Ann in fact walks somewhere, she marvels at herself waiting for the WALK light before crossing the street. Ann would like to thank the Long Beach Unified School District for her salary and her union for collectively bargaining on her behalf.  Deep bows to Darren, Scott and the Held2Gether Company for their faith and patience.  Lastly, Ann would like to thank the universe for locating the Company in Long Beach where she can exercise her performance muscles without ever having to get on the 405.

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JOE MASSIE

Joe Massie was once asked by Darren Held to write a bio about himself. Without delay he waited about a week and then after a reminder sat down and wrote it: Joe is very humble! It is because he is so humble that he is so great at everything in his life. A simple HUMBLE perspective makes him THE BEST at: recreational extreme ironing, Bo-taoshi, Ga-ga Ball (not related to Lady Gaga Ball but similar), cheese rolling, expert snow polo, and of course kaninhop! All kidding aside, Joe’s plan to be the quiet reserved member of Held2gether is finally coming to fruition. See you at the shows! #writingin3rdperson #bio #hashtag

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RICHARD MARTINEZ

Richard Martinez loves Improv. He loves acting, writing, and directing theatre. He loves V-neck t-shirts. He loves watching TV. He loves sunflower seeds. He loves steak. He loves riding his bicycle through the wonderful city of Long Beach. He loves sugary drinks. He loves sugary candy. He loves practicing for his VH1 Storytellers in the shower. He loves writing about himself in the third person. He loves making meatloaf. He loves sarcasm. He loves the fall season. He loves his boo. He loves bacon. He loves The Talented Mr. Ripley. He loves Alanis Morissette. He loves karaoke. He loves taking naps. He loves finding a good parking space. Richard Martinez loves.

He hates pickles.

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NEIL MATSUZAKI

The Neil is a humanoid creature that exists to eat, sleep, and consume memes.  The Neil is native to the San Gabriel Valley but has been seen as far out as the wilds of Sacramento.  Current migratory patterns have seen the Neil in the Long Beach area integrating itself with the indigenous improv scene.  If you see one, don’t panic.  He is relatively harmless and will only approach if he is foraging for food or video games.  The Neil is a good source of nerd lore and is a good sacrifice on any adventure to show that the story is getting serious.

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KENDRA NICHOLSON

Kendra Nicholson was a simple Missouri farm girl until she discovered theatre. She then became a slightly less simple, but not exactly complicated farm girl, who liked to pretend to be other people. Some time passed and some stuff happened, and she loaded up the wagon, (OK… It was a station wagon, but that doesn’t sound nearly as adventurous) and she moved to California. (Sort of like the Beverly Hillbillies, but without all that money or a pet raccoon named Elmer, and she left her grandma back home.) Then some more time passed and some other stuff happened, and eventually she discovered improv. When she realized that she would never have to audition, learn lines, or wear a corset again, she was hooked. She’s still pretending to be other people, but now she’s just making them up as she goes, and that suits her just fine.

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SARAH PINSKY

From her fourth year until her third decade on this planet, Sarah masqueraded as a shy, demure wallflower. Then, she stumbled into a held2gether class wherein the dammed-up reservoir of insanity began to pour forth from her. Now, she delights in playing with other “grown-ups” on stage and in her self-ordained role as an improv evangelist. She loves held2gether and all the humans in it for allowing her to exorcize her demons with them on stage.

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CAEL SCHWARTZMAN

Cael tells us he comes from Saratoga Springs aka “Upstate” New York. For some reason he thinks anyone cares about there being parts of New York other than the big city. Spoiler alert: we don’t. In 2008 Cael decided that he needed to find some adventure, so he packed up his car and just started driving. Eventually he made it to San Diego and finally found his way to his new Held2gether home in Long Beach in 2011. Like a fool, he first enrolled in classes at Cal State Long Beach to become an “engineer.” In 2015, once he was done wasting his time getting his “engineering career” in order, he finally got his head about him and stumbled into his first level 1 improv class with the legend herself: Kendra Nicholson. From there it has been a whirlwind of a ride full of laughter, tears, drama, intrigue, and more laughter. Also, he has a cat, and enjoys indoor rock climbing and outdoor camping.