The Gong Show was a cultural milestone that aired between 1976 to 1981 and paved the way to modern-day talent competitions. No wonder the show had a strong audience-obsessed foundation in its theatrical adaptation. It’s even better live and up close.
As part of my assignment for our school paper, last September 17, 2016 I had the wonderful pleasure of attending the pre-broadway tour of The Gong Show Live at our college’s Ciccone Theater. The show’s premise is to feature attention-grabbing acts that entertain the audience and the judges while avoiding the smack of the gong. Fresh from their successful Off-Broadway production, the show stars Ray Ellin as the host, who channeled such great energy and enthusiastic vibe. Also part of the outrageous and amusing cast were Chuck Nice, Leslie Gold, and Brian Scott McFadden. They star as the hilarious panel of judges who offered comical feedback scores to the performers. To set the bar for a dynamic and lively evening, The Gong Show 10 Orchestra band played a variety of songs from the 70s and 80s that fans quickly recognized. The set design was as splendid and colorful as the cast’s ability to transport the audience back to the era of pure and silly comedy with a modern twist.
Critically acclaimed as “jaw droppingly hilarious”, the live recreation of the classic 70s show is professionally directed and is not an amateur talent contest unlike its original counterpart. The production of The Gong Show Live actually features New Jersey talents as well as from Saturday Night Live, America’s Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance. Some of the eccentric and interesting acts included “Spoonatra” a Frank Sinatra impersonating spoon, “Amazing Amy” an 80-year old contortionist, and “Chips Cooney” a magician who amazes nobody.
Everyone evidently had a great time and the theater echoed with laughter thanks to the crazy antics of the performances. No wonder the show had a strong audience-obsessed foundation in its theatrical adaptation. It’s even better live and up close.