An exhilarating trip through ‘The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers’ at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages

For kids of the 1980s and ‘90s, Marc Summers is a living TV legend, having hosted and produced Nickelodeon’s world-famous children’s game show Double Dare from 1986-93. That was followed by his 20-year run with the Food Network, as the host of Unwrapped and executive producer of Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant: Impossible, and many other appearances as a host, talk-show guest, game-show player, magician, and comedian. Through it all, he struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, with which he was diagnosed in 1995, severe injuries sustained in a frightening car crash in Philadelphia in 2012, and a recurrent battle with cancer. Now 72 and healthy, the popular TV personality is being celebrated on the New York stage, as the subject and star of The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers, an autobiographical journey through his iconic career and the behind-the-scenes challenges he’s overcome, written by Alex Brightman, with original music by Drew Gasparini, in a limited Off-Broadway premiere engagement at New World Stages.

Marc Summers and company. Photo by Russ Rowland.

The nostalgic memoir, delivered by the entertaining, upbeat, and engaging Summers in hosting-style direct address, combines his stand-up accounts with re-enactments of key events from on stage and off, with active segments of audience participation that double dare you as adults to join in on a re-creation of his hit children’s show, improvising, and maybe even getting a pie in the face if you give the wrong answer to a trivia question or, with the clock ticking down, aren’t fast enough to win a challenge.

It’s a lot of fun that will make you cheer on the players, laugh out loud, and feel like a kid again, but there are also a lot of serious issues addressed that move beyond the humor to the humanity and hope inherent in Summers’ real-life story and the optimistic attitude and joyous determination that got him through all the ups and downs. Even in the evolution of his highly successful show-biz career there were rejections, firings, and show cancellations that only made him work harder, take whatever jobs became available, develop new skills in the industry, and make important new connections.

Marc Summers. Photo by Russ Rowland.

Director Chad Rabinovitz keeps the show moving at a lively pace that’s in perfect tune with Summers’ exhilarating demeanor and the simpatico writing of Brightman, currently appearing as Lancelot in the Broadway revival of Spamalot, with its message to “always look on the bright side of life” – a moral that’s most definitely taken to heart here. There are some less ebullient sections that deal with the difficult experiences (including repeated confrontations by a stalker who threatened him and his family), but as with the triumphs, the obstacles he faced were also met with courage and tenacity, the love and support of his family and fans, and bits of dark humor (e.g., the reason he changed his original surname from Berkowitz to Summers) that underscore his buoyant personality, inspiring outlook, and never-give-up spirit, making him the consummate role model of life-affirming positivity, not just for kids, but for everyone.

Marc Summers. Photo by Russ Rowland.

The moods and scenes – including a couple of big surprises near the opening of the show and at the end (no spoilers here!) – are supported by Gasparini’s vibrant score and a co-sound design by David Sheehan and Hidenori Nakajo. Christopher Rhoton’s scenic design, with images of dripping gobs of green slime around the theater, dynamic colorful lighting by Jeffrey Small, props by Matthew Lish, and a central digital screen with images that change with the recollections, transports us back to the vintage TV studio of Double Dare and opens up to the various recounted locales (Summers’ bedroom, doctor’s office, the nighttime streets on which he was stalked, and other television shows on which he was seen or worked), and costumes by Scott Jones capture his natural style (a sports jacket and tie with jeans and white sneakers) and provide the protective liquid-proof gear needed by audience participants in the messy game show.

Marc Summers (center) and company. Photo by Russ Rowland.

If you’re a child of the ‘80s-90s and have fond memories of growing up watching the invincible Marc Summers, this is the show for you, and it could make your dreams come true by volunteering to be a part of it with him. If not, it’s a great introduction to the life and charm of a thoroughly open, upbeat, and amiable person with a fabulous stage presence, delivery, and sense of humor, which is sure to make you a fan and to inspire you to make the best of everything life hands you – even if it gets slimy!

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, without intermission.

The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers plays through Sunday, June 2, 2024, at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $69-299, including fees; VIP tickets include a post-show meet-and-greet with Marc Summers and a gift bag of custom show merchandise), go online.


  1. Great review. Saw it last night and it was amazing! I don’t believe the stalker was a literal stalker, but rather the intrusive thoughts in his head caused by his OCD. That’s why he kept having to read the signs over and over again. When Marc realizes he has OCD, he tells his wife we have a name for my stalker.


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