The promise at Eccles Theater Friday night was that fans would get an entire season of “The Bachelor” in a couple of hours. And it was a promise kept.
That all this was done with back-up dancers was unexpected. And sort of weird.
But then the whole “The Bachelor Live on Stage” was sort of decidedly strange. Hosts Ben Higgins and Becca Kufrin — themselves veterans of “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” TV shows — presided over what amounted to a roadshow/amateur hour. Their mere presence brought screams of delight, and Higgins and Kufrin — who were greeted like rock stars — pulled it off admirably.
More than 1,000 fans — closer to 2,000, it appeared — paid good money to attend the event and, boy, were they excited. The decibel level was deafening as they screamed their approval of, well, pretty much everything. Do not underestimate the level of devotion of Bachelor Nation.
The “Live” format was familiar even to theatergoers who clearly had been dragged to the Eccles by their significant others: One bachelor — Park City firefighter Crispin Calvert — met 10 eligible women; he decided who was going to continue to compete for his affections at a series of Rose Ceremonies; in the end, he gives a Final Rose to one of the women.
Both Higgins and Kurfrin were charming and seemed at ease. OK, they’re not great dancers, and that was before Higgins hurt his knee as they were lip syncing to “Grease” songs. And his series of sparkly tuxes and suits was … interesting.
And they were selling the premise.
“I believe a connection can be made in minutes,” said Kufrin, pointing to her engagement to the guy she chose on “The Bachelorette.” (Her fiance, Garrett Yrigoyen, made multiple appearances onstage, accompanied by more screams.)
Calvert, however, was awkward and stage frightened for much of the evening. What was he looking for in a woman? “I dunno.” What’s he hoping for? “I’m not expecting too much.”
Yawn. Calvert loosened up somewhat after the intermission, but, no, he’d never be cast on the TV show.
The 10 women, however, were all clearly fans of the ABC series. They tried to make an impression when they entered, from Kali H., who brought chocolate chip cookies, to Morgan, who said, “I’d like a partner to climb on.”
The women were game for the games — the Newly Met Game, Lip Service — and Kali H. decided to go naughty during Naughty or Nice, telling Calvert and a theater full of people that she’s really “fantastic” at, uh, performing a certain sex act. Really.
Most of the elements of the show were there. Calvert — who had difficulty remembering he was supposed to say, “Will you accept this rose?” — handed out a first-impression rose, a group-date rose, participated in a facsimile of the hometown visits, spent time with the final two women in a “fantasy suite” (a bed onstage) and endured five rose ceremonies.
“No one said this was easy,” Kufrin told him.
His finale two contestants were Audri and Kali H. (who got some boos from the audience), and he made out with both of them in the fantasy suite. Calvert chose Audri, and they received a prize package and said they planned to go on a date.
The women, however, took it all in stride. Even an extended discussion about whether they pee in the shower. They looked like they were having fun, and nobody was upset when they were eliminated.
Which, in a way, was a big improvement on the TV show. “Bachelor Live” was just fun, without the overwrought, over-the-top drama.
It was weirdly engaging at times. I invited/forced my 20-something daughter — who is not a fan — to accompany me. “This makes me ashamed of my gender,” she said at the outset.
But, later I noted that she caught up in one of the games. “A little,” she admitted. “I care about their commitment to the activity.” OK …
The crowd was overwhelmingly female. I originally estimated 90%, but that was low. Maybe 95%? At one point, Higgins addressed the audience as “Ladies.” He didn’t even bother to note the small minority of men.
Was it worth the price of admission to the “Bachelor” roadshow/amateur hour? That depended entirely on whether you are a devoted member of Bachelor Nation or not.