Entertainment, Reviews

All-Human Game Show Attracts Full House

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Costumed as chickens, Will Miller (left) and Rosann Hickey (right) opened up the evening’s Civic Theater Project performance of “Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show” by singing the show’s theme song. Shows were held at the Hardwick Town House May 9, 10 and 11.

HARDWICK – The Civic Standard Theater Project gave a production of a mock TV game contest, “Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show,” which attracted full houses to the Hardwick Town House on May 9, 10 and 11, putting a continuous smile on everyone’s face for almost two hours of rollicking comic entertainment.

The large cast of 20-some participants, directed by Rose Friedman and presented by the “Hardwick Hysterical Society” staged a variety of quiz contests with a lot of audience participation and real prizes

including coffee mugs, tee shirts, food baskets, and even cash. The combination of imaginative satire, spontaneous humor, local references and a fast moving script showcased the impressive talent and originality of all involved.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Kristine McAllister (left), Dylan Laflam (center) and Jeanne Segretto (right) contestants in “Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show,” answer questions during the Civic Theater Project game show production of “Front Porch Faux-rum” held on May 9 to May 11 at the Hardwick Town House.

Andrew Koehler at the keyboard and Harrison Martin-O’Brien on percussion set the laid-back mood for the evening with their fine improvisations. A brief, projected slide show traced the supposed history of the beginnings of the game in Hardwick over a hundred years ago, starting with Elihu Sport who decided which of his chickens to eat next by a contest.

Will Miller and Rosann Hickey then appeared in complete chicken costumes to sing the show’s short and silly theme song, while a number of the “Lame՜s” in blue uniforms with gold trim (Tobin Anderson, Larry Fliegleman, Sara Hedrick, Carlotta Hayes, Esteli Kitchen, Heather Lanphear

and Vince Razionale) circulated behind them moving set pieces into place.

The co-hosts of the show, Jasper Benedict (Nicholas Nicolet) and Hart Withers (Justin Lander) then appeared and explained the outline of the game. Throughout the show they were periodically assisted by Andrew May whose off-stage announcements provided a very convincing voice of God.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
“Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show” co-hosts Justin Lander (left) and Nicholas Nicolet (right) kept the audiences entertained and the shows moving during the three productions held at the historic Hardwick Town House May 9, 10 and 11.

The co-hosts began by going down into the audience, asking frivolous questions and awarding actual cash for correct answers. Three of the recruited players then went to podiums on stage to play the Price Comparison Smackdown. Items compared included toothpaste vs. lollipops, local craft beer vs. Bud Light and diapers vs. condoms. The winner emerged with a basket containing some of those items and the opportunity to play in the final Big Wheel game of the evening.

At that point Annette Picky (Rosann Hickey), dressed in 1890’s garb and apparently a distant relative of Elihu, rose from the audience and urged the hosts to “Step things up with a prize to really change someone’s life”. The co-hosts conferred and then canvassed the audience for someone in need of a car repair. One person was chosen from several responses and a “Car Jar” was set aside to be filled with cash matching the amounts won in the various games during the show.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Three children from Friday night’s audience play “free pile of fortune” during the “Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show.” They were (from left) River Fournier, Dylan Meacham and Charlie Upson. Behind them are cast members Vince Razionale (left) and Sara Hedrick (center). Three sold-out performances were held at the Hardwick Town House Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The hosts went down into the audience to play “Eyeball It” where people were asked to make quick estimations of a variety of questions including the width of the stage and births in Hardwick over the last year. More money was awarded, along with mugs and tee shirts and money in the Car Jar.

The next game called “What’s Opie Thinking” featured Hardwick’s town manager apparently strapped to a handcart, wearing a “thinking cap” constructed of a colander with red and green lights attached. Audience members were invited to guess which Beatle, number or hot dog condiment Upson had in mind.

The winners of each round were invited to come up on stage for the “Skate Stack Challenge” where they had 45 seconds to create the highest stack of cordwood on a skateboard. Fittingly the winner was awarded a Hardwick Skateboard Collective sweatshirt and all the wood they wanted to carry home.

After the intermission the hosts introduced a special guest, Chaz DiAlysis (Tom Murphy), who had been host of the show years ago. He wanted to run the second half of the show and had to be persuaded to leave, taking a very artful pratfall off the stage! Jenny Googledox (Lauren Antler) as the producer tactfully led him away.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
One of the acts in the “Civic Theater Project’s Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show” consisted of co-host Justin Lander (left) asking audience members “What’s Opie Thinking” played by David “Opie” Upson (right). The Civic Theater three-night production was held at the Hardwick Town House Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Quite amusing was the next game which had three children from the audience competing to see which one could put on the greatest number of clothing items from a pile stacked in front of them. Each child got one dollar per item and the winner got a gift certificate to the Hardwick House of Pizza.

One of the most difficult contests of the evening was for anyone to remember and accurately recite the tongue twisting and absurdly pretentious phrase, “The Incredibly Challenging Intracranial Micro-conundrum Involving the Replication of a Predetermined Verbal Construct”, which had been repeated several time throughout the evening, but took many tries to find someone who could say it exactly.

The “Front Porch Faux-rum” game brought on Tobin Anderson as the holographic reproduction of the town crier, reading off several entries from Front Porch forums past and asking the three players to guess whether they were “true” or “faux” items that had actually been posted online.

A flashily dressed Mr. Big (played by David Perrigo) then announced himself as a wheeler-dealer who offered to take the show to Hollywood, but everyone in the cast agreed that they wanted to keep the show local and live in Hardwick, to be shared by the whole community and they unanimously rejected his offer.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Co-host Justin Lander (center) explains the Big Wheel to contestants during the “Change Your Life! Hardwick’s Only All Human Game Show.” Cast member Kent Osborne (left) is the sound effects person. Bob Titterton (right) from Elmore, won Friday night’s grand prize. The three shows were held at the Hardwick Town House May 9 to May 11.

Finally, the evening ended with the winners of the onstage games each having a chance to spin the Big Wheel. The one coming closest to 100, without going over, was awarded the grand prize of the evening, an all expense paid trip to Morrisville including a meal and a show at the Bijou. The tally from the Car Jar raised over $200 for the needed repairs! As a finale, the whole cast joined in singing the theme song and the audience responded with an enthusiastic ovation.

Among other contributors to the show that should be mentioned are Kent Osborne as “Finch Babberstrom” Foley artist/Sound effects; Jo Lander, who ran the spot light and script writers Rose Friedman, Lauren Antler, Justin Lander, Tobin Anderson, Annie Houston, Kent Osborne and Nicholas Nicolet. Apparently a writer and photographer from the New Yorker Magazine attended the Thursday night performance as part of their coverage of the community building work of the Civic Standard. Something significant to look out for in the future.

David K. Rodgers

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