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A CurtainUp Review
The Fix-Up Show

Have you ever reviewed a show badly that you've been in?.—J. Keith Straaten (to theater critic Michael Riedel)
The Fix-Up Show
J. Keith van Straaten
(Photo: David Schinman)
Looking for Mr. (or Ms.) Right? Well, rejoice lonely-hearts! The Fix-Up Show, which began its life at The Triad on June 8th, gives fresh hope to real singles looking for love. Every Tuesday two strangers are being fixed-up on a date with the help of a panel, comprised of two who know the eligible single well and a celebrity who have neverr met who comes to the proceedings cold. Hosted by the irrepressible J. Keith van Straaten (Beat the Geeks, What's My Line? - Live On Stage), The Fix-Up Show is theater's answer to the television reality-show boom.

What lifts this venture above other reality shows of the past three decades is its bow to normalcy. Whereas other shows have prided themselves on bizarre tests and outlandish feats that supposedly proved one's courage or affections (like eating bugs to impress your potential date), the The Fix-Up Show is less about spectacle and humiliation than the old maxim Be Yourself!

Wisely, van Straaten (who has penned dating essays for The Jewish Journal, Tango and Backstage) avoids too much theorizing on love and the dating world. He simply comes on stage and chats up the audience with jokes and anecdotes, weaving in a preview of the evening's scenario and its general format.

Before the main part of the June 22nd evening I attended began, van Straaten invited Katie, the previous week's winning bachelorette, to rehash her 2-hour dinner date at The Capital Grille (the gustatory prize awarded weekly to the couple). We learn that she had plenty of fun during the evening, but wasn't actually smitten with her date. So needless to say, there are no wedding bells ahead for this matched pair, or even a second date. True to its name, The Fix-Up Show promises to fix-up eligible singles. But it doesn't guarantee you'll find a soul-mate or the proverbial love of your life.

In the main part of the show I attended van Straaten invited the evening's token bachelor Mark, a 38 year-old talent agent, on stage for a genial tete-a-tete. Probing Mark's appetite for adventure, van Straaten asked him a range of hypothetical questions from the daring ("How about we take a trapeze course?" to the tamer ("How about we try gourmet cheese at Zabar's?") Curiously, the subject that upstaged the others was a domestic one: Mark's beloved cat. Mark revealed that he had developed a sudden allergy to his pet of four years, and instead of parting with it, resolved the problem by taking the anti-histamine Zantac. Judging from the audience's reaction, Mark's loyalty was his strong suite here.

Following this, the panelists were introduced. First up was Samantha, Mark's business assistant. She wasfollowed by Bill, his oldest chuml. The evening's celebrity was Michael Riedel, The New York Post's gossip columnist who also participated in What's My Line? — Live On Stage. However one may feel about his ruminations on theater folks, Riedel showed a real talent for thinking on his feet and delivering astute questions to the bachelorettes. As celebrity guest, Riedel was also subject to van Straaten's special brand of humor. In fact, one of the funniest moments was when van Straaten put him on the spot with "Have you ever reviewed badly a show that you've been in?" Riedel, refusing the bait, simply smiled.

Naturally, the three bachelorettes—Isabelle, Danielle, and Summer— were the evening's triple highlight. All had a go at the questions posed by the panelists. Isabelle, a sexy blonde who works on Wall Street, was the most outspoken, recounting both her childhood overseas and the present career challenges posed by working at a conservative office on Wall Street (her boss had objected that day to her dress's short hemline). Danielle, an up-and-comer in the modeling business, talked about her most embarrassing moment (the time her bathing suit top accidentally came off in a pool) and her past stint as a United States Marine. Summer, a New York City public high school teacher, shared her experiences in an inner-city classroom in Harlem. After much friendly grilling, and a few moments of reflection the panelists voted on who might make the best date for Mark. Danielle unanimously became the evening's winning bachelorette.

Admittedly, The Fix-Up Show is sheer fluff, as much a confection as the program's candy hearts. But emcee van Straaten expertly tosses out bon mots and manages to intelligently tease a real-life story from each potential suitor. Though spontaneity is the name of the game he is always in command. Even if you don't usually subscribe to reality shows, you might want to check out the goings on at the Triad. If there's a message to the fun and fluff, it's to remind you that there are no slide-rule methods for finding love.

The Fix-Up Show
Hosted and produced by J. Keith van Straten

Participants: Katie Petri (winning bachelorette of June 15th show); Mark Turner (eligible bachelor of June 22nd show); Michael Riedel (celebrity panelist); Samantha Paladini (panelist); Bill Primavera (panelist); Isabelle Dungan (bachelorette); Danielle Guldin (bachelorette); Summer Edell (bachelorette).
The Triad at 158 West 72nd Street — 2nd Floor
Tickets: $15 cash at the door; $10 advance via SmartTix — or visit or phone 212/ 868-4444; The Triad has a two-drink minimum and is a cash-only venue.
Phone/Website: 646/ 450-4FIX [4349] or visit
From 6/08/10; 7/0 8, 7/15, 7/ 22 @ 9pm; additional dates to be announced.
Running time: 1 hour with no intermission
Reviewed by Deirdre Donovan based on June 22nd press performance
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