Just ask Ginny Nightshade to describe “Old School Game Show” in a nutshell and she’ll give you a mouthful of an answer.
“It’s like ‘The Price is Right,’ where there are eight audience members on the stage at any given time, but there’s also a scripted theatrical production coming in and out throughout the show, with a full house band with live music and a dance troupe called the Cubic Zirconia Dancers,” she says excitedly. “We’ll have a guest stand-up [comic], too. And there’s a variety element, with sketch comedy while all the time there are audience members actively playing live trivia and games.”
She pauses and adds, “Oh, and there’s an audio/visual component, too. We have short films incorporated into the show with a big projection screen. It’s a monster of a show.”
The 3-year-old production which currently holds a monthly residency at the A.R.T.’s Oberon Theatre incorporates all the elements Nightshade lists above, under the guidance of Mike D’Angelo, the show’s creative tour de force and MC. Nightshade, the production’s co-producer and starring cast member, and D’Angelo will wrap their season on Nov. 19 with “The Cardio Vascular Spectacular,” a 70-minute show inspired by the campy ’80s treasure, the Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship.
“We’ve done this show before, but it’ll be really cool,” says Nightshade, who notes each themed production can be reimagined for new venues and tweaked for each audience. Previous themes have included heavy metal, science fiction and 1970s family bands, a la the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family. “Expect there to be Shake Weights and a live band.”
“Old School Game Show” was the brainchild of D’Angelo, who first performed the concept for a birthday party before giving a public debut at Milky Way in Jamaica Plain in 2013. Nightshade joined following a pickup at the then Davis Square Theatre (today known as the Rockwell) in Somerville before the group snagged a monthly residency with the Oberon in 2015.
The concept is as Nightshade described: On one level, as its name implies, it’s an interactive game show involving audience members answering trivia and participating in challenges. “We did ‘Baby Mama Drama,’ where people were asked to identify drawings of famous movie scenes drawn by children,” says Nightshade. “We’ll choose something a child has never seen, like the heroin overdose in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ and we’ll put it up on a big production screen and contestants can buzz in.” Other clues for trivia might be obtained through character monologues or sketch scenes performed throughout the night — “It’s not like the trivia you’d play in a bar,” she adds. Winners can snag tickets and prizes from local businesses, like the “Slutcracker” or the Boston Music Awards.
On another level, “Old School Game Show” is a fully sussed-out theatrical production, featuring a regular cast of 10 (including Nightshade and D’Angelo) and with regular guest singers and stars from the area art scene. Past guests have included musician Casey Desmond, comedians Ken Reid and Kelly MacFarland and local powerhouse vocalist Ruby Rose Fox. “We pull in artists from all genres of art — improvisers, ballet dancers, musicians, burlesque,” says Nightshade. “We have all these people from different areas of the industry pulling in audiences to see a show they might not have seen otherwise.”
The production will return for a monthly spring residency at the Oberon, but continue to look for opportunities for future expansion, having booked shows this fall at Laugh Boston and CinemaSalem. But the future is still up in the air. Explains Nightshade, “We want to do it more than once a month, but the Boston arts scene hasn’t quite found the right place for us to be at that level.”
If you go
Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
2 Arrow St., Cambridge