"Price is Right Live" comes on down to the Riverside Theater
Walking up to the Riverside Theater, all you could see was a swarm of people lined up along the river, dressed in outrageous outfits, homemade shirts and eccentric accessories. It was such a colorful, crazy sight, there was no way to be sure what exactly was going down inside – unless your eyes zeroed in on the one thing everyone had in common: those familiar yellow price-tag name tags. Then it became clear.
"The Price is Right" had taken over.
Last night, audience members took a break from watching the show on TV and actually got to see it live. The rowdy crowd filled every seat in the Riverside, selling out the event within hours of its announcement. The beloved daytime game show hasn't been to Milwaukee in a couple of years (2013 was its latest visit), so it's no wonder so many people jumped at the opportunity.
Cue the theme music, and the crowd went absolutely insane, so much so they didn't even notice someone had come out on stage: Andy Martello, comedian, actor and our announcer for the night. Before any Plinko could be plunked, he gave us the lowdown on how to be a proper "Price is Right" audience member. To get his point across, he showed a training video of past show clips, demonstrating how to make a grand entrance as you sprint your way down to the buzzers. He also taught us how to shout answers at contestants to help them out – though most people in the crowd were already pretty adept at this particular skill and didn't need much of an explanation.
When he wrapped up, Todd Newton, formerly of "E! News" and "Whammy", took the stage as the host for the evening, getting the crowd all riled up again. He was no Bob Barker or Drew Carey – who is? – but he played his role well enough. He cracked jokes, had the voice down and displayed great stage presence and crowd interaction. He, of course, did the host's kiss of luck and got a contestant to kiss him right on the lips rather than on the cheek, per tradition – after she sang along to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On," naturally. The amusing, lighthearted shenanigans made it easy for us to forgive them for not giving us the real deal.
The show ran like most "Price is Right" episodes: Contestants are called down, see a product and guess a price. The closest answer gets the chance to win a prize. Instead of keeping the same people up there, they mixed things up and switched contestants every round through a random drawing, which gave opportunity for more people to get up there and try to win big – and made the audience even more excited and anxious.
The live show also stuck true to the phrases, games and set. The announcer always said his signature "Come on down," while the host dramatically said, "The actual retail price is ... " bringing the television show to life. The games and the set, though, really brought the whole thing together. They made a complete replica of the typical set to display on stage – complete with the sign with the show name, the doors hiding the prizes, the buzzer stands and literally everything else you could think of was sprawled across the Riverside stage.
The games included crowd favorites like Plinko, Cliff Hangers and Punch-A-Bunch, as well as a personal favorite of Bob Barker's, Any Number. A diverse group of players tried their best at the games. Some won fairly big, with a washer and dryer set, a 50" TV set with a Blu-ray player or large amounts of cash. All the while, the audience attempted to help – or outsmart – the contestants by yelling out their guesses. Some of them helped; some of them caused problems.
The staples of "Price is Right," of course, snagged the biggest spotlight in the show's lineup: the big wheel and the showcase, easily the most anticipated and most exciting part of the show for the audience. It was admittedly bizarre to see iconic items you've seen on TV for years right before your eyes. The contestants were jazzed to spin the wheel and have a chance to win big. Unfortunately, they didn't see much luck, but you could tell they still completed a life goal by merely spinning that wheel.
The showcase also fit pretty well to the show. As on the show, two lucky contestants tried to guess the prices of some over-the-top and highly prized product packages. For this live show, they revealed a new Mac desktop computer, a grill and utensil set, an outdoor smoker, a trip to Hawaii and a new car. The insane prizes added so much pressure, the contestants blew their chance to win big: They both guessed too much over the actual price about $21,000, making the last round a bust.
Though the show didn't end on a high note for the contestants, overall it brought plenty of happiness to the audience. The whole time, people were smiling, clapping and dancing, having the time of their lives. Hopefully, Milwaukee won't have to wait another four years for another spin at the wheel.
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