Fans of "The Price is Right" don't have to go to Hollywood to play the game. They can "Come on down!" when a stage version plays Ruth Eckerd Hall tonight.
Now in its 40th year on television, the CBS price-guessing game show is an American institution, and a traveling, interactive stage version has been playing to packed houses for a decade.
At "Price is Right Live!" audience members will be able to win up to $25,000 in cash and prizes (appliances, vacations and even new cars) by playing classic games such as Plinko, Cliffhangers, the Big Wheel, and the Showcase.
Missing, however, will be current host Drew Carey and longtime retired host Bob Barker. The stage version is presided over by Todd Newton, an Emmy-winning game show host and former pitchman for the Home Shopping Network.
"The stage version is similar in countless ways to the TV show and different in only a handful of ways," said Newton, who has hosted more than 60 of these live events.
"The major differences are no TV cameras, and we give more people a chance to win great prizes," he said. "We get new contestants for every game and even call out winners at random during the show."
Admission prices range from $25 to $65 to watch. The 90-minute show begins at 7:30 p.m. To be eligible to play games, audience members must register at the Ruth Eckerd ticket office up to three hours before showtime (you must be 18 or older to play).
The stage version of "Price is Right" was launched 10 years ago and has played Las Vegas and Atlantic City. This is the first time it has been at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
"It was created for people who love the show but can't get out to Hollywood and stand in line for hours to get in to see the TV version," Newton said in a telephone interview.
"It will be like a homecoming for me, because I used to work at the Home Shopping Network in Clearwater," said Newton, who sold electronics, jewelry and other items from 2008 to 2009.
"I saw a lot of shows at Ruth Eckerd Hall when I was there, and I have a lot of friends and favorite restaurants over there," he said.
Newton may be best known to E! Entertainment Television viewers. For more than a decade he covered red carpet events for the network.
He also has awarded more than $28 million on shows such as "Family Game Night," "Whammy," "Hollywood Showdown," "Gameshow Marathon," "Instant Millionaire" and "The Price is Right Live!" — now in its fifth year at Bally's Las Vegas.
"I enjoy the live interaction with the contestants," said Newton, who trained under Barker. "He taught me that as the host, you are just the icing. You are not the cake. The audience and the game are the cake.
"Every show is different because of the contestants and their personalities and reactions," he added.
The TV version of "The Price is Right" marked its 40th anniversary on Sept. 4 with a special episode filled with classic clips, a montage of "Come on down!" moments and returning contestants. The longest-running game show in television history debuted on Sept. 4, 1972. Carey has hosted the program since 2007.
'THE PRICE IS RIGHT'
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater
Tickets: $65, $50, $35 and $25; (727) 791-7400
Other info: Wannabe contestants must register at the ticket office up to three hours before showtime. Go to www.rutheckerdhall.com for full details