“Come On Down!” Those are the magic words that potential contestants of the long-running game show “The Price is Right” long to hear for a chance to play.
Todd Newton, the Emmy Award-winning host of game shows like “Hollywood Showdown,” “Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck” and “Monopoly Millionaires’ Club,” loved he enjoyed hearing those words too growing up watching the game show staple. He admired host Bob Barker for his ability to entertain millions of people almost every day simply by being himself. .
After coming to Los Angeles to pursue a showbiz career, Newton eventually became Barker’s protege and ended up hearing words from his mentor that led to a grand-prize-sized accomplishment in his hosting career.
“Bob was kind enough to say, ‘Throw this kid in there,’” said Newton.
Barker championed Newton to host the first-ever non-televised version of the game show for a three-week run at the Sammy Davis Jr. Showroom in Reno, Nevada, in 2003.
That show eventually extended its run to stints in Atlantic City and Las Vegas before turning into “The Price is Right Live!” that currently tours venues across the country and comes to Rupp Arena on Oct. 22.
The live show has given many people the chance to have the “Price is Right” experience without traveling to Burbank, Calif.
“The Price is Right Live!” is produced by the same people that do the TV show. Everything from the lights and set pieces to the music and games is transported from city to city.
Newton said that they couldn’t bring all 85 games from the TV show, so they assembled a crowd-pleasing “greatest hits” package that includes some of the show’s earliest games and mainstays like Plinko and Cliff Hangers.
“Obviously, you have to bring Plinko. People love Plinko. They live for Plinko,” Newton said. “It’s just like a band. They put together a set list and we mix things up.”
Because the live version of the game show takes place in larger venues like Rupp Arena (“The Price is Right” studio only holds a few hundred people), the live show is its own unique experience.
Everything from the set pieces to the Big Wheel is even bigger and there are video monitors so everyone has a good view of the action. Each time a game ends, four new contestants are called down to Contestants Row.
Plus, since the show is 30 minutes longer, Newton is able to interact more with the crowd while delivering interesting facts and stories about some of the game show’s details and history.
But there are some elements of the show that remain regardless of whether the game show is the televised or live version. The prizes are just as big, whether it’s a trip to Paris or a new car.
And that iconic Bob Barker-style microphone will be there too.
“We pack that thing away like a treasured museum piece,” Newton jokes. “You’d be amazed at how many people are trying to take their picture with that thing.”
Newton still feels honored that Barker deemed him qualified to hold that prestigious microphone. And when he gets to interact with the contestants on stage, he always has his mentor’s words in mind.
“The most important thing I learned from Bob is that every contestant has a story and it is my job to get to know that person, to introduce them to the audience because if you’re sitting in the audience, you have to root for that person,” Newton said. “That’s how I host the show. I host it through the eyes of a contestant.”
Now, Newton gets to tour the country with “The Price is Right Live!” and he is frequently amazed at the fandom of those who attend in their custom outfits, T-shirts and posters and fondness people have for a game show that seems to be a winner from Burbank to Boston and every town in between.
“‘The Price is Right’ is all good things and when we come into a new town and I see the people lining up outside the theater, it’s impossible to have a bad night,” he said. “America loves this game, and this game loves America right back.”
If you go: “The Price is Right Live!”
When: Tuesday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Rupp Arena, 430 W. Vine St.
Cost: $32 to $52
Tickets: 859-233-3535 or rupparena.com.
Want to play: Participation in the game open to legal residents of 50 United States and Canada (excluding Puerto Rico & Quebec), 18 years or older. Ticket purchase will not increase your chances of being selected to play. To register for chance to be a contestant, visit registration area at or near the venue box office three hours prior to show time. To enter theater to watch show, a ticket purchase is required.