Featured photo: Drag queen CC LaBrie sings as she sits on Jacob Gordon’s lap at the dating game at the Camel City Playhouse in Winston-Salem NC, July 9, 2022. (photo by Juliette Coen)
“If you know what The dating game it’s time for a colic,” host CC LaBrie says as she struts onto the stage in a bright red dress, scanning the packed house before turning her pointed gaze to her presenter, Carl Nubile. .
Flowers in neon shades burst from the plush yellow walls of the Camel City Playhouse stage on Saturday night. Their wobbly shape immediately brings to mind the classic 1960s TV show “The Dating Game,” but tonight’s game has been updated with inclusive couples and deliciously raunchy banter.
LaBrie is a staple of the Triad entertainment scene, but in her old-time matchmaker role, she shines brighter than wonky neon flowers. The self-proclaimed “Bearded Housewife of Winston-Salem” is as far removed from classic TV host Jim Lange as you can imagine, and that’s a welcome change.
The game takes place over three rounds, mixed with musical performances by LaBrie and a set by local comedian Stephen Melaga. Round one includes bachelor #1 and her three male suitors, round two one bachelor and her three male suitors, and round three features bachelor #2 and her three male suitors.
Each contestant sits behind a screen, unable to see their potential dates, who sit on a sofa covered in a vintage crocheted flower bedspread. After the single person asks a series of questions to their potential partners, they choose the candidate they would like to date. As a reward for their love, each couple receives a gift card to a local restaurant for their first outing.
Each of the three rounds offers a unique kind of entertainment. When Bachelor #1 asks his potential dates a seemingly innocuous question about their favorite flavor of ice cream, Candidate Three turns around and asks him the same question. “Pistachio”, says the bachelor. Contestant three immediately replies, “You like nuts, noted.”
It’s not all dirty jokes, but there’s a constant thread of mild sexual tension. With a smirk, a single girl asks the loaded question, “It’s a Tuesday night and I’ve had a terrible day at work, what are you going to make me do to feel better?”
Contestant 3 responds, “Rub the front, rub the back, whatever you need.”
Incidentally, she chose contestant 3.
The interaction between the host and the competitors is the X factor of the evening. CC LaBrie provides a supporting stage presence for the contestants, while keeping the audience engaged and laughing. When Bachelor #3 asks the men on the couch what fictional place they would like to visit, his Contestant #1 says he would like to go to Narnia.
Labrie crosses the stage on his heels towards the sofa: “Is it because you’re still in the closet? Should Triad City Beat not photograph you at this time? »
There are tentative plans to bring “The Dating Game” back to Camel City Playhouse in the future, according to LaBrie. This kind of engaging, community-focused entertainment is a respite from the often oppressive times we live in, she says. While diversity on tonight’s show has always been part of the vision, LaBrie would like to include a tour of mixed-sex and members of the trans community in the future.
All of the contestants point out that modern dating isn’t easy, and many people have turned down offers to participate in the production due to the vulnerability that this type of public forum entails.
For tonight’s competitors, everything seemed to be going well. As they walk out of production, the Round 3 men stand together outside a bar across the street, drinking and laughing. Although contestant 2 and his incredible waxed mustache were not chosen for the date, he sums up the feeling of the evening: “I got to interact with people in real life, and I would say that I won by making friends.”
Find future shows on Camel City Playhouse social media or camelcityplayhouse.com.
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