Guggenheim Entertainment, creators of the Chanukah extravaganza MeshugaNutcracker, have recently staged productions of such gleefully kitschy diversions as SHOUT! The Mod Musical and Xanadu. Now the Guggenheims have unleashed their latest concoction at the Retro Dome, a musical comedy that takes audiences on a nostalgic trip back to the classic TV game shows of postwar America.

Thanks for Playing … The Game Show Show! depicts events on the set of The Secret Square, a fictional 1950s quiz show. A casting assistant (Shannon Guggenheim) braves sexism and the stresses of live television production as she rises through the ranks and begins a romantic affair with the show’s host (Stephen Guggenheim). Other staff members include the bandleader (Jackson Davis), a singer (Heather Stokes), an announcer (Ric Iverson) who longs to host his own program and a ditzy model (Lee Ann Payne) who dreams of being more than eye candy.

Their already hectic lives spiral out of control when the show’s sponsor pressures them into rigging the game in favor of more glamorous contestants. This leads to an FCC investigation, reflecting the actual scandals so memorably dramatized in Robert Redford’s 1994 film Quiz Show. Will The Secret Square be able to recover from this setback?

The music, onstage banter and visual trappings of early television are meticulously re-created on the Retro Dome stage, and with actors bringing an easy likeability to their characters, Thanks for Playing is pure, simple, goofy fun. Shannon Guggenheim’s original songs are quite catchy, especially the opening number, “Beat the Clock,’ and the amusing “Press Your Luck,’ which runs through all the things you can’t say on TV. All the songs refer to classic and latter-day game shows, from Truth or Consequences to Win, Lose or Draw, while additional references to Family Feud, Jeopardy! and even Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? are sprinkled throughout. Audience participation adds an extra dimension to the play, and Thanks for Playing shrewdly allows a few members of its audience onto the stage to literally play the game.

The only serious problem with this show is the length. Thanks for Playing feels longer than it should be (this is, after all, a comedy about a quiz show, not Angels in America). Some judicious trimming could bring some added snappiness to this already enjoyable evening.

Thanks for Playing … The Game Show Show!
Runs through June 3
The Retro Dome