Red Carpet LIVE!
nytheatre.com review by Melanie N. Lee
June 7, 2006
Red Carpet LIVE!, created, directed, and emceed by Lisa Levy, duplicates the celebrity treatment for its audience, while mocking our obsession with fame. Technical difficulties—the screeching of feedback—delayed the show the night I attended, and a rainy evening kept the red carpet indoors. The show kicks off with cozy pre-interviews, proceeds into improvised, interactive scenes, and ends with a humorous, surprisingly intimate camaraderie among actors and audience alike. If you fantasize about attending ritzy awards shows and want to vie for your "Ruggie" Award, then unearth that tux or gown, if you have one, and come to Red Carpet LIVE!
While stagehands set up the interview area—backdrop, camera, velvet ropes, and of course the carpet—"celebrity" publicist Ashley Fisher, clownishly dressed in a white jumper printed with blue buttons, gathers info from the "celebrities." This night's attendees, besides my sister and me, included: a man planning to attend the wedding of members of the Ganas commune, site of a recent attempted murder; a female artist whose wall displays her nude photo; an interview-declining man whom the actors dub "Shy for a Living"; and an evening-gowned returnee hoping to break her Susan Lucci-esque curse with a Ruggie win. The "celebrities" vie for Better Undressed, Most Remarkable, and Most Likely to Get Searched at an Airport.
White-gowned Lisa Levy—jewelry by Wurman Designs—vivaciously interviews each "celebrity" after he or she strolls down the short red carpet. She confuses my sister's name with mine, and examines the "wedding guest's" drab-green shoes. Inside the theater, these interviews, replayed on a large video screen, are judged by the panel: "comedian/bon vivant" Jim Conley, "fashion designer" Marylu Lambert, and "emotionally unavailable cartoonist" Derek Stubbs. Levy's podium is a music stand bedecked with red metallic streamers. Bombshell awards presenter Heather Mills (yes, that's her name!), a radiant blonde in a red gown, rounds out the cast. The "Brains and Brawn," the staff and crew, are Ben Adams, Jen Birdseye, Chris Buehler, and Phil Buehler.
The panel's improvised zings, never vicious or catty, include:
- "Ever notice that you can't give "the finger" to the blind?"
- Upon hearing that my sister works among middle-schoolers: "She teaches at the Monster-sori School."
- About the green shoes: "Green…it's not the new black."
The audience "celebrities" follow suit:
- From the Most Remarkable winner: "I'd like to thank the Ruggies Academy…and my family…and God…"
- From the Better Undressed winner: "You'll just have to guess that I'm better undressed!"
- From the Most Likely to Get Searched winner: "There are starving people all over this world…" and a panelist nods off and snores.
In lieu of the high glamour of a real awards show, an amazing ease fell over all the participants. Perhaps the personal quality of the improvised comments produced the warmth; everyone had a laughingly good time. We were even invited to an après-awards party at a nearby tavern.
Suggestions: the show needs a longer red carpet, plus some sharper technical works (the video grew dark as the camera panned down to the green shoes). A little music, vocal or instrumental, would add to the awards show atmosphere.
All in all, Red Carpet LIVE! provides its "celebrities" an enjoyable, "glamorous" evening.
I should say that I captured the Most Remarkable Award, reportedly because I had purchased my red peasant gown online.