Weekday morning TV favorite “The Price Is Right,” originally hosted by Bill Cullen, first aired from 1956 to 1965. The show was revamped in 1972 with a new host, Bob Barker, who charmed audiences for 35 years before retiring from a half century in the television industry in 2007. Since then, comedian Drew Carey has hosted “The Price Is Right.”
Neither Barker, who turns 96 in December, nor Carey were present for the 2 p.m. show, but Mark Walberg – not to be confused with the Hollywood actor and restaurateur Mark Walhberg – proved an affable and entertaining host. Walberg hosts the popular PBS series “Antiques Roadshow.” He cracked jokes with contestants and encouraged audience participation throughout the show.
Announcer Jim Gruessing made an appearance onstage with his arm in a sling (the result of tripping and falling on the sidewalk outside of a museum in Peoria, Illinois, he told an audience member). He rattled off the names of sleek appliances and lavish vacations on the table in a smooth voice made for television, or the stage. The “Price Is Right Live” model, the lovely Markie McManus, showcased all the prizes with style and grace.
Potential contestants were able to register at the Riverside up until the show started. During the show, audience members were randomly selected to participate in the bidding games, which included the popular Plinko, Cliffhanger, the Big Wheel, and the Showcase.
The audience was extremely enthusiastic and multi-generational. A good portion of audience members wore “The Price Is Right” T-shirts. They packed the Riverside to capacity and cheered on the contestants, shouting out numbers and holding out fingers to indicate what their bids should be. In between games, videos of old “The Price Is Right” episodes kept the audience entertained.
Several contestants walked away with substantial prizes, among them a trip to Hawaii and a gas grill, complete with a year’s supply of steaks. One lucky audience member who didn’t compete won a trip to Las Vegas, and throughout the show, several other audience members won $25 Amazon and Bed Bath and Beyond gift cards.
“We’re all winners here in Milwaukee, aren’t we?” Gruessing asked the audience, who agreed with him. The energy is the theater was infectious, and even the many who walked away from the show empty-handed seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously.
“The Price Is Right Live!” provided a fun-filled experience for anyone with even a tiny bit of a competitive spirit in a welcoming environment, and a nice respite from the pressures of day-to-day life.