Aside from being the top-rated reality dating show on television, ABC’s “The Bachelor” – now in its 24th season — is an absolute wrecking ball of a franchise. Spinning off other series like “The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise,” the formula essentially throw a handful of sexy and occasionally dramatically batshit (but still sexy) individuals into a mansion and other exotic locales to compete for the affection of the Bachelor and television viewing audiences for the prize of a relationship and exploding social media follower count.
Enter another spinoff of the franchise: its first foray into a live touring stage show. And with Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort getting one of the tour’s first shows — just 24 hours after Valentine’s Day — the audience was treated to witnessing the show’s stage adaptation in a mildly “anything can happen” capacity. What occurred was a cavalcade of “The Bachelor” celebrities including past winners and fan favorites, and the case of past contestant Sydney Lotuaco now performing as a dancer on the production’s choreography team.
While the television show’s format includes contestants living together in a mansion for several months and being filmed going on dates with the bachelor while being narrowed down in elimination soirees – known as the Rose Ceremony – over the course of the season, “The Bachelor Live On Stage” hosts, and former winners, Ben Higgins and Becca Kufrin explained that the contest had to fit a two-hour show. The production had previously chosen one local bachelor, a Nevada Sports Net reporter named Julian Del Gaudio, as well as previously selecting 10 local women who would compete throughout the course of the show to ultimately be Julian’s winner.
The show remained high energy, mixing video montages of show highlights and hilarious lowlights with dancers and more than a few appearances from past winners who were often greeted with cheers. Host Becca Kufrin’s winner from her season as “The Bachelorette” attended school in Reno and joined Becca onstage — with a dog at one point — to attest to the relationships built by the reality show. The stage show also recreated most of the most iconic elements of the television show, most often with creative use of the video screen and props, such as the introduction at the limousine, the rose ceremonies, and the fantasy suite.
Over the show, audience fan favorites quickly developed, while many in the crowd cheered, booed or simply yelled their thoughts at Bachelor Julian during his elimination ceremonies. At times, the room took on the feeling of a sports arena with the crowd involvement, at some points becoming almost mutinous when a favorite contestant was cut.
The arena-like atmosphere should be taken as a statement to how well the “Live On Stage” producers emulated the show, creating a production that swept the crowd up quickly and managed to present a show while allowing those former television contestants in the cast to talk about their experiences and thoughts. At one point, audience members were encouraged to hashtag the show with questions for the hosts, who then took the time to answer a few during a quiet moment onstage.
In all, the personalities of a few of the contestants seemed to far outshine the selected bachelor, and after cheering or groaning in disappointment at the final rose ceremony, it was easy to quickly forget who the winner even was, as everyone filed over to the resort’s LEX Nightclub where another former winner, Vinny Vinsane, was set to DJ for the night.
But regardless of whatever the future of the two locals may be, the evening proved that “The Bachelor – Live On Stage” was able to successfully take the crack-like combination of individuals opening up their romantic adventures in game-like fashion to the cheers and yells of a room that felt similar to watching a gladiator event with a couple thousand friends and distill it into a show that was hilariously entertaining while keeping the feel of the kitschy reality dating show brand.
— Shaun Astor