You can “Come on down” without driving all the way to Los Angeles. Same goes for spinning the Big Wheel, dropping a Plinko chip or bidding on the Showcase Showdown.
“The Price is Right Live,” which arrives at Hartman Arena on Sunday, is a close replica to the popular, long-running CBS game show that first started airing in 1956.
Although the show won’t be recorded or aired on television, it will give attendees the experience of participating in the game, and some will walk away with prizes, too.
The traveling show that’s coming to Wichita will be hosted by Mark L. Walberg. That’s the Mark Walberg who also hosts “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. Not to be confused with the “Marky Mark” actor/rapper/underwear model Mark Wahlberg.
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Walberg said he started hosting live versions of the show in Atlantic City and Las Vegas about nine years ago when he wasn’t busy with other television jobs. When producers decided to take the live show on the road, they asked him to act as a host. Talk show king Jerry Springer and radio and television personality Todd Newton are among other the hosts who sub in and out.
“The Price is Right” has been a part of Walberg’s life for much longer than nine years, he said.
“The sound of the theme music reminds me of faking sick to stay home from school,” he said, calling from Wichita Falls, Texas, where he’d just finished hosting the show. “I was a big fan and still am a big fan. I still catch the show from time to time. It’s a piece of Americana, as far as I’m concerned.”
The live traveling show doesn’t work exactly like the television version, Walberg said. Producers want as many people as possible to get a chance to participate. So those who make it to Contestant’s Row, for example, won’t be the same people who play the on-stage games, spin the Big Wheel or compete in the Showcase Showdown.
Also, for a chance to be called to play, people must go to Hartman Arena and register up to three hours before the doors open. People can register starting at 3 p.m. until the show begins at 6 p.m. Producers will draw at random 60 names from the pool of registrants, and the contestants called will come from that pool. People don’t have to buy a ticket to be a contestant, but they won’t be able to get in to watch without one.
In addition to the famous Plinko game, other classic “Price is Right” games that are played during the live show include Hole in One, Punch a Bunch and Cliffhangers. At some shows, people win a new car or a vacation.
Walberg said he loves the spontaneity of the live show.
“You never know who is going to end up on stage during any given show, and I like that,” he said. “But we do we try to give the audience as close to the T.V. experience as they can get.”