In October 2015, before its third season kicked off at OBERON, Old School Game Show’s creators told us the show was “what would happen if The Price is Right got drunk and danced on a table.” And it certainly hasn’t gotten any less zany over the last year—why would it? The one-of-a-kind, interactive variety production—part TV series, part musical, part comedy show, all absolutely bananas energy—brings together some of Greater Boston’s artists, comics and musicians for send-ups and celebrations of everything from pro wrestling to Pat Sajak.
Perhaps its no surprise, then, that Old School Game Show will introduce that mirth and mania to an audience at the Wilbur on February 4 for its biggest, most off-the-wall episode to date.
Executive producer and actress Ginny Nightshade says that she and the rest of the Old School Game Show crew have been actively looking beyond Somerville and Cambridge to bring the Old School Game Show experience to new spaces and new audiences. “We’ve got this really lovely base of people who come to our show all the time … but we can bring this to people who have never seen something like this before,” Nightshade says before a Wednesday night rehearsal at the Rockwell in Davis Square.
The 2015 Halloween production was held at Cinema Salem, where only a handful of people had seen the show before. Old School Game Show also made its Laugh Boston debut last year.
Nightshade says they’ve learned that this “crazy monster of a show” will hold up in just about any space, and The Wilbur, with its capacity of 1,200, will be the largest venue in which they’ve showcased their offbeat brand of comedy by a lot. (OBERON, for comparison, seats 130.) It’s letting Nightshade and co. do their biggest, boldest evening to date. “And our show is already pretty big,” she chuckles.
To take advantage of the room, they’ve added huge dance and musical numbers. The whole band will be onstage. They’re bringing tons of local talent along for the ride, including opening comic Ken Reid and musical guest Will Dailey. Starlab Studios worked with the crew to film scenes for a brand new game that will make its debut in February.
Coordinating their biggest production to date has meant the writers, actors, dancers and musicians have done more planning than ever before. Nightshade jokes that the script has been done for weeks—this time around, it won’t be finalized just days before the show. The full-cast rehearsal at the Rockwell is something of an anomaly, too, as the crew generally practices piecemeal before the big night.
But fear not: More rehearsing won’t mean a final product that’s any less wild. This is the same crazy crew of actors and writers who brought you games like “Baby Mama Trauma,” where contestants have to guess which violent movie is depicted in a child’s drawing. In fact, the wheels might come off even more at the Wilbur. Old School Game Show episodes are usually based around a theme, like heavy metal, or the ’80s. This time around, the theme is just “game show,” which means just about anything could happen.
“We’re getting to pay homage to what the show originated and was based on, which was these game shows we all came home and watched on TV after school,” Nightshade says.
And of course, it’s all led by host Mike D’Angelo, the manic, mustachioed “tour de force of campy energy,” who’s helmed this thing since the beginning. He and Nightshade, who have been creative collaborators for years, actually got engaged in December. “I thought the show was the love of my life, and it turns out that he is,” she says, grinning. “It’s been really neat to do this together as coworkers and as partners.”
“We just talk about it constantly,” she adds. “We never stop doing it.”