Theater Review: The Price is Right LIVE

Melissa Garrett

Rapidly filling each seat, excited adults and students animatedly talk to friends and strangers in nearby seats. Their eyes are drawn to the stage where a large white dollar sign and “The Price is Right LIVE” is printed onto a black curtain, concealing games and prizes from the audience.

At the front-right of the stage, a neon-green podium printed with the show’s logo is set up for announcer Andy Martello. Four contestant podiums in yellow, red, blue and orange with microphones face the stage as two large television screens to the left and right amuse the audience with fun facts about the show, giving them a small taste of what is coming.

As the lights extinguish, The Price is Right theme song resonates throughout Stephens Auditorium as the excited buzz turns into hooting and hollering when Martello announces the first four people to “come on down.”

Outbursts of “Yeah!” and “Woo!” echo from the balconies and surround the audience on the main floor.  Jumping and hugging their friends, men and women rush to assemble in front of the podiums, slapping enthusiastic high fives to everyone seated nearby. Grinning from ear to ear is host Todd Newton, who brought out a smiling brunette model in a shiny, purple dress to display the first prize: a guitar with accessories.

Featuring well-known games like Plink-o, spinning the glittering wheel, Cliffhangers and Punch-a-Bunch, the live show gave its audience a small taste of the hit television game-show and offered more people chances to win prizes and cash. Nearly 10 names were a surprising no-show, which let more people become contestants.

The crowd actively participated in the show, rooting for contestants on stage and sharing feelings of disappointment when someone would overbid or incorrectly guess the price of an item.  Newton and Martello encouraged the audience to yell, “higher,” or “lower” or yell out different numbers to help contestants, since Martello said, “Once you get into contestants’ row, your brain shuts off.”   

For every new game different contestants were chosen, which gave more people the chance to win prizes. After each round, Martello called four names to receive $25 Starbucks gift cards as a smaller prize to claim after the show.

Newton briefly spoke to each contestant before revealing the game and prizes they had a chance to win. One female contestant accidentally spit on him while another male contestant amused Newton with his work beeper. With a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, a male ISU student made Newton and Martello double over with laughter at his blunt reaction: “Holy sh*t.”

“Between that [student’s reaction], the beeper and getting spit on, I’m never going to forget this show,” Newton said.

In a most memorable win, an elderly woman played “Hole-in-One,” a golf-themed game where the contestant had to guess the cost of six items and arrange them from lowest to highest price to win a stainless steel Samsung refrigerator and freezer. With two out of six correct guesses, the losing buzzer went off, but Newton told the woman she could still win if she got a hole-in-one. With encouraging chants and yells from the audience, screaming, “You can do it, Mary!” and “Come on, Mary!” the woman gripped the club and putt the ball straight into the hole.  Wild with excitement, audience members leaped to their feet, pounding their fists in the air with satisfaction in a standing ovation.

While a majority of the earlier prizes were claimed by contestants, several instances of overbidding on later prizes led to some contestants walking away with $100 or a slightly larger cash prize of $200 instead of a larger prize. Sadly, no one won the travel-themed showcase, featuring a silver 2015 Versa Note S Plus vehicle, a luggage set, camera and trip to Hawaii, since both women overbid by about $15,000.

There were some disappointing losses, but the contestants who won seemed more than grateful to win anything on the show. The show offered a small taste of the television version of The Price is Right, which is the experience of a lifetime. Though I was not chosen to become a contestant, the spectacle of the show and the experience was just as rewarding.