Michael Wanzie and Douglas White have assembled a powerhouse group of local entertainers to impersonate famous folks in "Celebrity Squares," a Fringe show fashioned after the TV classic "Hollywood Squares." It's exciting to spot the "stars" when the group makes its mass entrance from all corners of the Orange venue.
We're looking at a ragtag combination of classic "Squares" stars and contemporary figures here. Old school is represented by Paul Lynde and Jo Anne Worley while Bill Clinton sits next to Sarah Palin on the top level of the grand-by-Fringe-standards set. And it's genius to have both Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli on hand.
While the lineup is fantasy-based, the show itself is surprisingly true to reality. The questions are straightforward, as seen on television, and the stars' answers can be quippy but usually suitable for family viewing. Some questions are wink-wink-nudge-nudge designed for specific celebs. For instance, Clinton is asked "Where is the best place to store cigars?"
Standouts were Carol Lee as Carol Channing, who got zingers off on stars, host and even contestants (and performed the opening song, which rhymes "Wanzie" with "Fonzie") and Mark Baratelli as under-the-influence Judy Garland, whose answers meandered through bizarre territory such as the uncooked meat in her refrigerator.
There's a lot of star power and a lot of talking, which, makes the show drag, so to speak. At 1 hour and 15 minutes, that's a lot of game show. Plus, the live production doesn't have the benefit of editing the tape down when the host gets confused. ("I told you I suck at this," host Wanzie said.)
75 minutes, Orange Venue, $11, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.