Pawn Shop, Live!
One of America’s favorite TV shows finds its way onstage in downtown Las Vegas. Based on The History Channel staple of several years, "Pawn Shop Live!" tells the story of Slick Garrison (Rick Harrison in actuality) and how the ’world famous’ pawn shop came to be.
Slick has his son Lil’ Boss and Chump (Big Hoss and Chumlee) working for him in the shop, along with the Old Fart (Old Man) in puppet form. The show contains several video clips throughout, including Slick during his childhood, the Old Fart starting his business, and Chump fighting off potential robbers with his ninja skills. Because it’s Vegas, the show also has the obligatory showgirls and dance numbers as well.
The one thing I appreciated most about the show was the back story of the Harrison family and their journey to Las Vegas. I enjoyed learning about The Old Man’s early years in North Carolina, his service in the Navy, and the humble beginnings as a comic book store owner struggling to obtain his pawn license.
It was also interesting to learn about Rick’s troubles as a child, both with his health and with staying out of trouble in school. All of this would probably make for a fascinating one hour episode on The History Channel. But combined with the very cheap laughs and carelessly written show, the history lesson is nearly lost.
One example of the carelessness of the script happens almost immediately. The show has a character named Hall Mark Fatton (Mark Hall-Patton, a.k.a. "The Beard Of Knowledge" on the TV show) coming out into the audience and appraising the value of a theater patron’s wife. Fatton puts an actual dollar amount on the value of the wife.
Even the casual viewer of "Pawn Stars" knows that Mr. Hall-Patton never puts a price on the items he’s asked to analyze. Perhaps it’s a small detail, but it’s an easy opportunity to nitpick for avid fans of the show.
I also didn’t understand the choice of having Old Fart depicted as a puppet with the rest of the cast as actors. Furthermore, the Old Fart’s character was grossly over the top, completely unlike the mild-spoken Old Man that millions of people have grown to love. A large part of the charm of the TV show happens to be the funny, understated quips that the Old Man offers to Rick, Big Hoss and Chumlee throughout the episodes. While the show does have potential, it is in desperate need of re-writing. More care needs to be taken to capture the essence of the TV show.
The cast is doing well with the show that’s been given to them. Sean Critchfield (Slick), Gus Langley (Lil’ Boss) and Garret Grant (Chump) each do a fine job with their roles. They each look and act enough like the real life Pawn Stars without being too overstated. Anita Bean and Enoch Scott each offered admirable efforts with the multiple roles they had to play. Kady Heard and Sidney Kounkel each have great energy and enthusiasm as the showgirls, especially with the closing of the show.
For my particular performance, all of the Pawn Stars came out onstage and greeted the crowd, thanking them for coming to see the show. It is my understanding that it’s the show’s intention to have at least one of the Pawn Stars come out onstage for every performance. That would be a fun and worthwhile gimmick for the tourists, seeing as the rest of the show is mildly entertaining at best.
The TV show has put visiting Gold and Silver Pawn on Las Vegas Boulevard as a top priority for many tourists nowadays, which I feel is perfectly fine. It’s certainly a nice diversion from the gambling and drinking culture that is Las Vegas. But will those same tourists spend the $28 for general seating to see "Pawn Shop Live!"? It certainly remains to be seen.