I arrived at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Massachusetts around 5:45PM for a 7PM show, picked up my ticket at the Will Call window, and got in line for the contestant registration - which essentially consisted of me writing my name on a card and dropping it in a bucket. They were literally just drawing names. The theater was packed too, even on the balcony - and since contestants were literally being chosen at random, it frequently took several minutes for them to reach the stage after being called to come on down.
As the vast crowd filed into their seats, a video screen was showing a slideshow of trivia questions, facts about The Price Is Right, etc., along with an occasional "The show will start in # minutes" message. When the show finally did start, it was with a little video about the history of The Price Is Right on TV, after which a secondary announcer introduced our announcer, Randy West. Randy warmed up the audience with a few clips and instructions on how to clap and scream and go "OOOHHHH!" as each prize was revealed. Finally, Randy revealed what I had already known going in - the host would be Todd Newton.
This was followed by a little video of highlights of Todd's career, including his various game shows (Hollywood Showdown, Whammy, Powerball, Family Game Night, etc.) in addition to a lot of entertainment news reporting. Finally, the audience counted down five seconds, the curtain parted, Randy introduced Todd, and we were on our way. The set had been updated slightly from the one I saw in Las Vegas (the big doors were painted to match the current TV set rather then the thirtieth anniversary set from 2002), and there was a model in addition to Todd and Randy.
The format - the show started with three pricing games, with a completely new set of three contestants being called to come on down before each game. After three pricing games, the curtain was closed so the Big Wheel could be set up, and another little video of clips from The Price Is Right was shown.
After the video, Todd came out into the audience to play a variation of Range Game with three or four audience members who caught his eye. With each audience member, a prize taken from an actual TV episode of The Price Is Right was shown on the video screen, followed by a Range Game board divided into three zones. If the audience member correctly picked which zone the price was in based on the TV episode the prize came from, he\she won a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy.
After that little interlude, it was time for the Showcase Showdown, which featured a completely new set of three contestants. These contestants could win $500 if they spun $1 once and $1,000 if they spun $1 again in the bonus spin. The contestant who came the closest to $1 without going over, and on the TV show would have advanced to the Showcase, won $250.
The Showcase Showdown was followed by two more pricing games, after which a completely new set of two contestants was called to come on down for the Showcase. There was just one Showcase, with the contestants writing down their bids. Whoever came the closest to the actual retail price of the Showcase without going over won one prize from the Showcase, and not the biggest one at that; if you came within $100 of the actual retail price of the Showcase, you won the whole thing (neither of them did it). After each segment of the show (the five pricing games, the Showcase Showdown, and the Showcase) six instant winners from the audience were announced, who would each win a bunch of gift cards (they didn't say where to). Todd signed off. The end.
The pricing games used were:
- Punch-A-Bunch, with $2,500 as the highest amount on the board.
- Hole In One Or Two - not for a car, and as far as I can tell there was no cash bonus for putting the grocery items in exactly the right order.
- Cliff Hangers, played exactly as it is on television.
- Any Number, with a four-digit prize at the top of the board.
- Plinko, with $500 in the center slot.
If this all sound familiar...it's because it's pretty much what I saw in Las Vegas. Still, I had a good time, and it was worth the $40 for a ticket.
I'll probably try to track down the new Canadian version of Match Game next week.