Fringe Review: Celebrity Match Game: The Musical(And A Game Show)

Sometimes even the best art benefits from reinvention…but as they say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ In Michael Wanzie’s latest incantation – a reworked version of last year’s award-winning Celebrity Match Game – Celebrity Match Game: The Musical (And a Game Show), a lot of music, a bit of game show and little comedy are delivered in this musical within a game show.

Like last year, Wanzie plucks a pair of contestants out of his audience to contend with some celebrities, which unlike last year, are played by themselves: Doug Ba’aser, Carol Lee, Elizabeth Murff, Gidget Galore, Janine Klein, and Jeff Jones.

After the intros – which included some of the best one-liners of the evening, like the introduction of Elizabeth Murff as “the oldest living Who in Whoville” – the game/show seems to advance at a snail’s pace. As part of the staged “improv,” the performers – including co-host, Douglas White — are consistently interrupted and made to perform over-extended musical numbers by the pre-recorded voice of Fringe producer Michael Marinaccio, which frequently infringes on the live performers’.

While I was glad to see Janine Klein regain control of the show in the end, finally being allowed to bust out her award-worthy chops, the scripted steady stream of shredding toward her by the panelists grew tiresome. I was thrilled to see – the normally wise-cracking – Carol Lee, show a more emotional facet when she projected her powerhouse voice in a moving ballad. Just when I thought the pace would redeem itself with an all-star cast, uptempo number, it is quickly interrupted when one of the performers gets “injured.”

A pleasant twist was a scene-stealing cameo by Orlando Fringe’s beloved “Judy Garland” played by the no-holds barred Mark Baratelli. However, it was awkwardly and visually evident that at least half of the cast had disdain for his presence.

Expect drama, a game show and the usual Wanzie wit. Murff says it best in her Broadway-style number when she calls it a “so-so show.”