Review: BROKE: THE GAME SHOW SHOW at Center Stage Theatre

Now through June 15 only

By: Jun. 14, 2024
Review: BROKE: THE GAME SHOW SHOW at Center Stage Theatre
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Whether or not you’re a game show fan, you owe it to yourself to catch Broke: The Game Show Show, which closes this weekend at the Center Stage Theatre in Shelton.

The show opens as tech director Alex (played by Ashley Rube) and host Hank (Ryan Myers) prepare for today’s episode of Broke, a show that skewers game shows with the added twist of competing to get Robucks only to go to broke at the end, all with the help of AI. Yes, artificial intelligence that can go awry in the form of an exclusive Virtual Automated Neural Network Assistant (Liz Muller, who directed the show and wrote the lyrics to C.E. Simon’s book and music), aka VANNA. As in White. And the host’s name ends in the letter K, like Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak. Instead of one glamorous hostess, Broke has four delightful Brokettes: Kayna Banez, Zola Kneeland, Julia Murphy, and Sophia Perrone. Rounding out the cast is Scott Sheldon as Control.

During the show, members of the studio audience are chosen to compete for those Robucks by answering trivia questions that all have the same answer or by answering trivia questions with the wrong answer. And Word Ass (as in association). Sounds silly, yes, but it’s also very clever, especially since Hank barely knows his stuff unless it’s about movies or playing a strip game. Of course, he’s paired against Alex, who takes her job very seriously and goes with the flow unflinchingly even when things go wrong. Such as AI malfunctions, which forces them to come up with alternative games including Charades, Hangman, and the Melting Snowman. Or the lights going off and everybody stumbling in the dark. Or Alex’s horror at discovering that Hank drinks before the show and more each time as he toasts the winners. Or that she and Hank are falling in love NS not realizing that they are live. Think of Mel Brooks, Seth Rudetsky, or David Ives taking something simple and turning it into something that’s simultaneously clever and silly and will leave you with a smile on your face as you leave the theater.

 The Center Stage Theatre bought a projection earlier in the season, and C.E. Simon’s video design really adds to the show. My guess is that the show would be funny without VANNA, but it is funny to see VANNA melting virtually in the projections and to see a donkey on screen as they introduce the Word Ass challenge. There are a few songs in it, and it would be nice if there were more, but the ones that are in it are just fine.

Do come tonight for performances at 6:30 and 10:30 and Saturday, June 15 at 7:30. It’s cabaret-style seating which really lends itself to the show. Bring your own dinner and booze if you like.  And mark your calendars for these upcoming shows: Jonathan Larson’s Rent from July 12 through 28, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change from September 20 through 29, and Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical from December 6 through 15. How this dynamic theatre company has been under this critic’s radar is mindboggling. It’s in a spacious updated arts center with plenty of room for its archived costumes and photos from previous shows. Season tickets are just $145.00 for adults and $75.00 for students. Single tickets are $36.00 for adults and $18.00 for students. Group rates for 10 or more people are $31.00 for adults and $15.00 for students. In the fall, there are two shows to engage students: Adams Family Younger@Part, a 30 minute offering for second to fourth graders from October 25 through 27), Zombie Prom for high school students from November 1 through 10, and Adams Family Young@Part for fifth through eighth graders from November 7 through 10. There’s also summer camp for kids from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The Center Stage Theatre is located at 54 Grove Street in Shelton. For more information , visit or call 203-225-6079.


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