The Fix-Up Show
nytheatre.com review by Case Aiken
July 8, 2010
J. Keith van Straaten has done something interesting at the Triad: he's taken a classic style dating show of the '60s and '70s (not like Singled Out, or Next, or whatever kids are watching these days) and transferred it to the stage. The results are... something... but I'll get into that in a moment.
The night begins with a video checking in on the contestants from the previous week. In this case, the couple said they enjoyed themselves but weren't going to pursue the relationship any further. It offered an ominous note to open the evening on, a fact that creator/producer/host van Straaten was quick to joke about as he took the stage. He explained the set-up: the show takes a single man or woman and hides him/her away while two people who are close with the contestant and one celebrity who is completely in the dark rate three potential suitors and pick one to go on a date with the contestant. It's a perfectly workable premise for the type of show that's being emulated, with serious critiques of the suitors coming from the real friends/family and the celebrity being on hand to provide laughs.
Our contestant was a young girl named Lorraine, who was very pro-Irish (like, she spoke Gaelic on stage pro-Irish) and loved dogs, comedy, and sports. Her co-workers, Mike and Lisa, were on hand to grill the three male suitors, along with Michael Musto, the guest celebrity. The three guys were named Tom, Jim, and Robert. After interviewing each, Robert was eliminated by a two to one vote. Then side by side questioning of the remaining two left only Jim, a comedian from Queens, standing. (He was my top choice, so I was pleased with this result.) All in all, a fun evening.
Taking what is normally thought of as the fare of daytime television and making it a piece of nighttime theatre does change the experience. While van Straaten makes a humorous host, he seems committed to keeping the show "family friendly" which seems unnecessary in a dark theatre with a two-drink minimum. At one point, Musto started to ask a question of a suitor about oral sex and was shot down quite forcefully in the name of keeping it "family friendly." While I don't think a show like this has to be gross to be good, it seems weird to me to suppress those comments so harshly. I mean, it's not like it's being syndicated nationwide. I think they're sticking too closely to the source material with that. Also, it's important to remember that each show is going to be a completely different experience, with different contestants and a different celebrity guest. Regardless, it's short (only about an hour) and fun, but you'll definitely get the most out of it if you're connected to someone in it.
I'm definitely signing up a friend of mine to be on it.
(Oh, also bring a good amount of money with you if/when you come. As I mentioned, there is a two-drink minimum, but also the drinks are fairly expensive and there's an automatic gratuity. It's cash only.)