Halloween Gong Show to take place at Ellicott Manor
BY: Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | October 23, 2013
LANCASTER- The Fearless Players are doing it again, and as always they’re bringing laughs and originality to the stage. In its sixth run, The Gong Show, a self-written and variety show, will feature some audience favorites as well as fun and crazy new acts.
The Halloween Gong Show will be held two nights only with show times at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday. Nov. 2, at the Ellicott Manor, 16 Ellicott Place, in Depew.
This time around, The Fearless Players will present their first live cabaret show rather than a dinner theatre show, which they have done in the past, explained Producer and Director of The Fearless Players Brian Heckler.
Brian said they wanted to keep ticket prices affordable to people so they come see the show. For $20 a ticket drink specials will be offered, a hors d’oeuvers buffet, and a great show. There will also be a costume contest held on both nights with the winners winning Ellicott Manor bucks.
The show itself is based on the 1970’s television show, in which amateur performers compete on stage in the hopes of not being gonged by a panel of judges. If a judge considers an act to horribly bad, he or she will strike a large gong forcing the performer to stop.
This is an interactive show so audience members will be asked to participate by booing for the act they least like or cheering for their favorite.
While The Fearless Players have kept some of the crowd favorites such as the act Men to Midgets, some new acts include Monster Mash, Soggy Bottom Boys, an Elvis performance, and Walk Like and Egyptian.
“There are a bunch of new acts,” said Director and Performer Elaine Heckler.
Elaine added acts like Chip N’ Dales have become a staple in the show; however, the performers will have new costumes and music. Also, The Golden Girls will be singing instead of lip-syncing and they will be singing Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.
The Cone heads are back and a few select audience members will be asked to participate in a ring toss, and whoever wins the toss will receive a pumpkin filled with lottery tickets.
Brian said they have their best girl group ever too. The Uptown Girls will be singing “My Boyfriend’s Back.”
“From what I have seen, these three girls that I put together for this their voices just harmonize perfectly,” remarked Brian.
The Gong Show is not written by just one person. The entire cast is involved in the writing process as well as choreographing, which is encouraged by Brian.
“Ideas come from everything,” said Elaine. “A lot of cast members will send us emails and say watch this You-tube video and we should do this for the Gong Show,” said Elaine.
Being a part of the show since day one, Bill Steffen of Olean said being with friends and getting to do crazy stuff is what keeps him coming back to the show.
“I’m the most daring one, because I’m the one who takes off my shirt and my pants,” laughed Steffen.
Steffen performs in several acts including Men to Midgets, Chip N’ Dales, Cone heads, a commercial, Stick Men, and Soggy Bottom Boys.
“The show is so much funny,” said Steffen. “It’s very raunchy. You don’t see a lot of that and people just want to let their guard down, have a good time, laugh, have fun, and that’s pretty much what it is.”
Steffen performs regularly in community theater and can be seen in performances mostly with Olean Community Theater group. He has been acting for many years and said he kind of fell into it when he was in fourth-grade, because he had a really bad stuttering problem. Acting and memorization has helped him immensely with stuttering and helps him to slow down and think before speaking.
As a newbie to The Fearless Players cast, Mitch Maxick of Amherst, is excited to join the show and enjoys working with all the cast members.
“I love the energy of everyone in the cast,” remarked Maxick. “Everyone is a family. It brings a new own of friendship from an area I haven’t seen in over 20 years.”
This past June, Maxick joined Rocking Horse Productions in the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” after 23 years of leaving the theater scene. The role of the pharaoh became available after the actor dropped out, and with his daughter in the show, Maxick couldn’t say no.
With the acting bug back, Maxick will star in six different acts in The Gong Show. He will be seen in Men to Midgets, Stick Men, possibly Walk Like an Egyptian, an Elvis piece, and two commercials based on the shake weight and Mexican frozen dinners.
“It’s a little work, but it’s a lot of fun so it’s not that difficult,” said Maxick, in regard to multiple roles. “I’m an English teacher so you have to wear a lot hats there. It’s challenging, but it’s worth it.”
Owner of Ellicott Manor, Laurie Emerson, said she is very excited to welcome The Fearless Players. She has owned the manor for 11 years and since that time she has offered her customers a variety of entertainment such as live music and karaoke.
Emerson explained the manor was built in 1903 and in the 1930’s after prohibition, floor shows and burlesque shows were performed at the manor.
The Gong show will be the first production to take the stage since Emerson has owned the manor.
“It feels good to see an actual production coming back in,” remarked Emerson. “I think it’s very appropriate that this show is here, especially on Halloween because we do Halloween really well.”
Tickets can be purchased at the Ellicott Manor, cash or check made payable to Fearless Players or credit cards at paypal.com-paypal email address is email@example.com.