Celebrities hit the dance floor for ‘The Masked Dancer’

Rick's Reviews

Disco Ball is one of the contestants on the new FOX series “The MAsked Dancer.” (Photo courtesy of FOX)

FOX found huge success dressing up singers, actors, comedians and athletes in wild costumes that hid their identities as they sang their way through “The Masked Singer.” Now, singers, actors, comedians and athletes will have their identities hidden by wild costumes as they dance their way through “The Masked Dancer.”

The new competition series – hosted by Craig Robinson (“The Office”) – debuts at 5 p.m. Dec. 27 on FOX.  It will move to its regular time slot of 8 p.m. Wednesdays starting Jan. 6.

Celebrity contestants will be joined on stage by masked partners and back-up dancers as they perform a series of dances such as hip-hop, salsa, jazz and tap. Judges Paula Abdul, Ken Jeong, Ashley Tisdale and Brian Austin Green will try to figure out who is tapping their toes inside those costumes.

There will be a series of clues sprinkled throughout packages, costumes and routines to help them with their guesses.

Green – who was a contestant on “The Masked Singer” – found the judging extremely difficult even with the hints. There was less time watching the movements and more time trying to decipher the clues.

“At the end of the day, even though this show is more difficult, as a panel we did a pretty good job. We surprised ourselves. We were expecting it to be a lot tougher than it was. And once we got into the rhythm and the understanding of what we were looking for and what made sense. Then the show was really fun,” Green says.

The judges found “The Masked Dancer” more difficult than “The Masked Singer” but Tisdale is certain the dancing competition was easier for the celebrity contestants. She can understand that a lot of celebrities would be afraid to tackle singing but they would be more inclined to dance because that is something they would be more apt to do for fun.

One of the keys to selecting the celebrities was finding household names. The producers want to make sure that once the masks come off, the audience will recognize the participant. In the case of “The Masked Singer,” contestants have included Drew Carey, Donny Osmond, Wendy Williams, Dionne Warwick and this year’s winner, Leann Rimes.

Any participants on “The Masked Singer” could end up being on “The Masked Dancer.” Green would have felt more comfortable being a contestant on “The Masked Dancer” than being on “The Masked Singer.”

“I’m not super confident in myself as a singer that way, and so if I could have done a show like ‘Dancer’ where I could have been much more anonymous and been in a costume and doing that, I would have,” Green says. “I think that’s a really cool thing that we offer to people that are in the costumes is this complete anonymity.

“It’s something that they haven’t gotten in quite a long time, possibly. The most fun experience, I think, for people being in costumes is that you spend so much time worrying about being judged and all of that, and especially on this show, you are not until you are unmasked.”

One big difference between the “Masked” shows is the costuming. The competitors on “Singer” moved around but nothing compared to what is expected of the “Dancer” contestants. Costumes had to be made lighter and offer more range of motion.

Green wore a giraffe costume when he competed in the most recent season of “The Masked Singer.” He found it difficult to move.

“There was such a limited range of motion that you could do within those costumes. I think they’ve solved that a lot on this show,” Green says. “The costumes seem a lot more streamlined and a lot slimmer to move in and easier to move in.

“But the field of view, the vision, the sort of little window that you have to look through definitely makes it difficult.”

The series opener of “The Masked Dancer” features contestants dressed as a Cricket, Hammerhead, Exotic Bird, Disco Ball and Tulip. That’s why the number one rule for any celebrity who wanted to compete was to make sure they were not claustrophobic.

Just like “The Masked Singer,” great precautions had to be taken while filming the episodes. There is tight security to make sure there are no cameras on the set. Participants wear full body suits to get from their homes to the studio – changing cars twice during their journey.

Executive producer Craig Plestis (who has held the same title with “The Masked Singer”) says, “Secrecy is paramount because we want to keep it fresh for the guessing game for America. It’s worked so far.

“It’s a lot of extra effort that we take and money that we spend to do all of this. But it’s worth it to keep the surprise when that mask comes off. And we’ve been lucky so far.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.