Live stage version of 'The Price is Right' continues through fall at Showboat
IT SURE ISN'T AS EASY AS IT looks on TV. Invited to check out the interactive fun at The Price is Right Live Stage Show at the Showboat, I brought my pal Sally with me to try her luck. How hard can it be? After all I'm a bargain-hunting demon at the supermarket. I know all the prices -- well, except for cleaning products, which I try to purchase as infrequently as possible. Housework is not my strong suit.
After we checked in at the door, we were given those big yellow price tags with our names on them and escorted to our seats. When I go out with Sally, I usually insist on taking the aisle seat, but I couldn't this time. In order to keep the game running smoothly, you have to stay in your assigned seat. It wouldn't do to have someone "Come on down" and not be the one who hit the electronic keypad with the correct answer.
I was not surprised that being left-handed handicapped me from the start. Each seat has the keypad attached on the right side of their seat. While the wire was long enough to place it on my lap within striking distance of my left hand, it still felt a bit awkward. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
Just like a real game show or live television taping, the audience needs to be warmed up. Our pied piper, the man responsible for whipping us into a frenzy of prize-seeking crazies, was the announcer, comedian Daniel Rosen. Rosen wanted energy and yelling and screaming from the audience, and we delivered -- to a point. Except for one woman who got into the spirit of the TV series and did a victory dance on the way down the aisle at the Mississippi Pavilion, most of the other contestants who earned a chance at a prize were more restrained. However, to remind us how nuts some of the contestants get on the TV series with Bob Barker, we were shown classic film clips of contestants losing it, overcome by the excitement of the moment.
Rosen also took advantage of some recent current events in New Jersey. When he introduced the attractive host of the show, Jeff Trachta, who spent eight years on the CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful (as Thorne Forrester), Rosen encouraged the women to ogle him. "He is a hunk," Rosen declared. He even suggested the ladies in the audience feel free to follow Trachta backstage. Rosen then decided he should include the guys in that suggestion. "This is, after all, New Jersey," he noted. "New Jersey is changing its name from the Garden State to the Rainbow State." I'm happy to report my fellow New Jerseyans booed lustily. We're a bit embarrassed right now about NJ's governor being fodder for the latest round of talk show monologues.
In the course of the fast-paced 90 minutes, the audience members had four opportunities to vie for a chance to come on down to Contestants Row, and from there out-bid their opponents and make it to the stage to win a bigger prize. The idea was to hit our keypad with the correct order -- from lowest price to highest price -- for the three items appearing on the video screens on either side of the showroom. The trick of course was not only to have the items in correct order, but also to do it in the fastest time. I had the correct answer several times, but wasn't fast enough. Other times I hit the buzzer before the red light was flashing.
I was excited when one of the questions involved the box office numbers for the highest grossing film of the weekend, Alien vs. Predator. As the film critic for AC Weekly, this was my top area of expertise. Wouldn't you know it, I had forgotten to check the box office figures this week of course, and guessed wrong. Now, I was really feeling like an idiot. Still, I shouted out what I knew were the correct prices when the person who guessed right had to put household items in correct order to win a washer and dryer. She messed up on the price of granola bars.
The live version of the show also features such regular TV features as Cliffhanger, Hole in One (or Two) and the prize-wheel spin (pictured).
Trachta did a solid job as a smooth stand-in for Bob Barker. His impression of Edith Bunker was pretty good, too. The showcase finale made me really wish I were faster -- and more accurate -- on the trigger. It included a green Mini Cooper. I've been a big fan of the car since seeing that great chase in The Bourne Identity.
Oh, well, Sally and I failed to make it out of our seats, but it was more fun than losing money at a slot machine.
The Price is Right Live Stage Show, now to October 1, Sunday to Friday, 7pm, Mississippi Pavilion, Showboat. Tickets are $25, 1-800-736-1420.
“We decided we were only going to have young people in the audience, young people on stage and young subject matter. Young people, by definition, are much wilder in their lives, much more open. And the show started to go crazy.”
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