Chris Guerra Re-Opening
Chris Guerra plays Roger Bastion in Re-Opening: A New Comedy. Courtesy of Chris Guerra and Kelsey Cooke.

TikTok comedy actor and Groundlings alum Chris Guerra is taking his improv skills to the big screen with Re-Opening — A New Comedy.

If you’re a frequent scroller on TikTok, you might recognize Guerra from his popular “Facebook Marketplace Nightmares” series, in which he re-enacts hilariously awkward conversations between buyers and sellers on Facebook Marketplace while wearing an impressive collection of wigs.

But before that, he was in the main company at the prestigious Groundlings Theater in Hollywood  — and even before that, he played Olaf in the live production of Frozen at Disney California Adventure Park.

His experience making that two-hour commute back and forth to Anaheim for five years to voice the little snow creature inspired the improv sketch that he did at Groundlings — and which he has since morphed into the main character, dramatic theater director Roger Bastion, in his feature directorial debut.

You can watch Guerra perform the sketch that inspired Re-Opening on his TikTok page where he has over 700,000 followers. In it, he plays an uppity theater director who steals the show while demonstrating how to properly play Elsa in a Disney Cruise production of Frozen.

That’s where the character of Roger Bastion was born.

Chris Guerra on Roger Bastion’s origin story

“I merged together a bunch of directors I had worked with,” Guerra tells MovieMaker. “It basically was the sketch that got me into the Groundlings. And so for forever, I was like, Oh, I want to use this character in a film one day.”

“We’ve all worked with someone like this,” laughs his wife, Kelsey Cooke, who also studied at Groundlings and acts in Re-Opening.

Chris Guerra Re-Opening
Chris Guerra, Benjamin Ironside Koppin, Amanda Lehan-Canto, and Casey Hime in Re-Opening. Courtesy of Chris Guerra and Kelsey Cooke.

Written and directed by Guerra and Matthew John Koppin, Re-Opening — A New Comedy is an all-improv comedy feature that follows Bastion (Guerra) as he leads the cast and crew of the struggling All Voice IS Theater in Pigeon Valley, Tennessee against all odds toward a mid-pandemic re-opening of the theater despite a series of setbacks along the way.

Also Read: How Jim Gaffigan Balances Comedy and Drama in Linoleum

Cooke co-wrote and produced Re-Opening through thisishardtoread productions.

The film’s cast is made up almost entirely of Groundlings Theater alums, including Groundlings main company alums Casey Hime and Sam De Surra, Amanda Lehan (SMOSH), Emily Pendergast (Veep, Miracle Workers), Patti Guggenheim (She-Hulk: Attorney At Law, Florida Girls), Leonard Robinson (Insecure), Karen Maruyama (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, Dead to Me), Amanda Lehan-Canto, Kiel Kennedy (Superstore, Robot Chicken), and Steph Barkley (Saturday Night Live), Jessica Pohly, and Chris Kleckner. Other cast members include Benjamin Ironside Koppin.

Having a cast of mostly Groundlings-trained improv actors, the movie relies entirely on improv. The actors referred to a 25-page outline complete for descriptions of each character and their relationships with each other, and during filming, Guerra would pose interview-style questions to each actor a la The Office and let their improv skills do the rest.

“We would interview someone, ask them all the same questions as everyone else, and then we would ask them a quick little question like, ‘How do you feel about this other character?’ And then they would respond to it. Then, when we interviewed that other character, we were like, ‘You know, so-and-so doesn’t like that you hug them,'” Guerra recalled. “So it’s kind of fun to just let them play.”

The result is an absolutely hysterical film that focuses on quirky personalities and small-town antics that will appeal to those who like Parks and Recreation and also watching improv shows on the weekends.

Though Guerra and Cooke are keeping the specifics under wraps, Re-Opening — A New Comedy is going to be released in the next couple of months. So far, the film has won several awards on the festival circuit, including best feature at the Burbank International Film Festival and best comedy feature at Las Vegas International Film & Screenwriting Festival and the Montreal Independent Film Festival. Cooke also won the best producer award at Lit Laughs International Comedy Film Festival in the UK.

Follow Guerra on TikTok and Instagram @chriswguerra and on the film’s website to stay updated on where you can watch Re-Opening when it has its wide release.

Main Image: Chris Guerra, Benjamin Ironside Koppin, Amanda Lehan, and Casey Hime in Re-Opening. Courtesy of Chris Guerra and Kelsey Cooke.