By Taylor Pittman, sophomore at McDonogh 35 Senior High School, mentored by Allison McCarroll
How much do you think a freezing night, a long line and an hour registration is worth? To some people, it was apparently worth an 80 minute showtime of “The Price is Right LIVE!” performed at the Saenger Theatre earlier this month. As soon as I walked into the theatre, I smelled nothing but excitement, cups of bourbon being sold from the bar, and a dash of popcorn. With the weather approaching freezing, everyone was dressed in costumes or matching sweaters. Most people who purchased tickets seemed to expect Drew Carey or Bob Barker to help them get a car, a million dollars, or at least over a thousand dollars in cash prizes. Evidently they did not read the fine print of the ticket they were purchasing. Though very similar, “The Price is Right” television show has been running in Fairfax District, Los Angeles since 1972, and an entirely separate entity from The Price is Right LIVE!.
As I pulled up to the Saenger, I saw two separate lines of hopeful participants waiting to be registered for free on one side of the theatre, and another line of people who just wanted to watch the show on the other. On average, ticketed patrons spent $29-$49 to still wait in line for over two hours, but you were supposed to show up three hours earlier to make sure you were able to register. Registration closed at 7:30, and immediately after the registration volunteers began to raffle off tickets to see who was going to be the first contestants for the beginning of the show.
For the first 10 minutes the studio producer explained the mechanics of when we should ‘woo’ and ‘aww’. The official show didn’t start until 7:50, but by then, everyone was excited. I got the chance to ask a group of people sitting in the balcony seats above me what they thought about their experience so far and they said, “We just want to win a car, and we hope that our mom at least wins 100 dollars”. The first game being played was ‘Any Number’, and the contestant won $100 just for playing the game. Next they called four random people from the crowd to win $25 gift cards from Amazon which they could collect after the show. Overall the show itself was very entertaining because of the witty remarks from the crowd and the host, Mark L. Walberg. His enthusiasm kept the crowd interacting with action going onstage and even off stage with the stage manager.
Before I left I got the chance to talk to a few more contestants who were a little “under the influence”, but they had mixed emotions about their personal experience. Most people expected to win at least something over $25 gift cards and for someone to win the car. The only way you could win the car (a Kia) was to guess its value plus the value of a round trip from New Orleans to Paris. The value the two contestants guessed were thousands of dollars off, and the “actual value” listed for the whole package was $9,000. For comparison’s sake, the least expensive 2018 Kia you could buy is a 2018 Kia Rio, which starts at around $14,000, not to mention round trip flight to Paris, which would add at least $1,000.
That particular experience made this reporter wonder, is “The Price is Right” television show using the same dishonest device? After my night at Saenger Theatre, I don’t think I would ever “Come On Down!” to another game of “The Price is Right LIVE!”