“Pawn Shop Live” at Golden Nugget is Mostly Frothy Fun for “Pawn Stars” Fans

History channel’s “Pawn Stars” reality series is truly a cultural phenomenon. The series has been a huge success for the network, and a boon to the pawn shop where it takes place, Gold & Silver Pawn in downtown Las Vegas.

A new show, “Pawn Shop Live,” has opened at the Golden Nugget, and for fans of “Pawn Stars” (we are them), it’s an over-the-top homage to the show and the characters that have helped make it so popular.

Pawn Shop Live show
Yes, it’s a puppet. Just go with it.

“Pawn Shop Live” has been called a parody, but we’re not sure that term is being used correctly in relation to “Pawn Shop Live.” A parody (or spoof) is an “imitative work created to mock or ridicule” the original work. Nothing’s being imitated, and the “Pawn Stars” team is a partner of the show, so there’s no real mocking going on.

“Pawn Shop Live” isn’t really satire either, as no greater point is being made. It’s just a playful look at the quirky guys who started out working at pawn shop and ended up celebrities.

So, let’s just call it a comedy inspired by a reality TV show and leave it at that.

The central character in “Pawn Shop Live” is based upon real-world pawn shop owner Rick Harrison. It feels a little arbitrary to make Rick the central character in the play, but Rick was the one who wrote an autobiography, “License to Pawn,” and many of the stories in the show were borrowed from his book, so he’s the main guy in “Pawn Shop Live.”

Pawn Shop Live
Sean Critchfield does a top-notch job as Rick. Er, “Slick.”

The characters have different names in the play, a tell that parody was the goal, so Rick is “Slick,” played with skill and earnestness by actor Sean Critchfield, pictured above. Thank goodness for Critchfield. He anchors the show, even as other parts of it veer off the rails at various points.

The show works through the history of the “Pawn Stars” crew, including Corey (Lil Boss, played by Gus Langley), Rick’s father, known as the “Old Man” on the series (Old Fart in the show, represented by a puppet voice by Enoch Scott) and Chumlee (Chump, played by Garret Grant).

Pawn Shop Live
Garret Grant channels our favorite “Pawn Stars” goofball, Austin “Chumlee” Russell.

The humor ranges from silly to downright infantile, although the sheer quantity of jokes assures quite a few stick.

The production effectively shows these are all just average guys who, through hard work, optimism (Rick called the real-world pawn shop “World Famous” long before actual fame happened) and luck ended up striking reality TV gold.

Pawn Shop Live
Lil Boss, played by Gus Langley. And a showgirl. In Las Vegas shows, it’s the law.

As we said, “Pawn Shop Live” will be appreciated most, and maybe exclusively, by “Pawn Stars” fans. And people who have had a cocktail or three. As a production, it has a community theater feel to it, and structurally, while it starts and ends strong, there’s a lot of middle.

“Pawn Shop Live” would benefit greatly from stronger guidance by its director, Troy Heard. Actor Enoch Scott’s contribution is especially problematic. The actor plays a number of parts in the show, including a flamboyant (presumably gay) TV producer. It’s the kind of stereotype that was always offensive, but even more so now that our culture has evolved to the point where we understand how offensive it should be. If Heard directed Scott to reel it in even 20 percent, for all the characters he plays, the show would immediately be 20 percent better.

Pawn Shop Live
Why have one character portrayed by an over-sized puppet? Stop asking questions and have another cocktail.

“Pawn Shop Live” was co-written and produced by Derek Stonebarger, who touts himself as “Emmy Award-winning.” We spent upwards of 20 minutes trying to find out what he won his Emmy for (possibly for producing news promos at KLAS-TV?), but to no avail. Does it matter? Who knows. In Vegas, it’s all about marketing, baby.

All that said, since we love “Pawn Stars,” we should probably focus on the Golden Nugget production’s strong points.

1) Like we said, it has a number of laugh-out-loud moments. 2) It’s clean, if you’re OK with fart jokes. 3) There are showgirls in occasionally skimpy outfits. 4) The guy who plays Rick. 5) It’s interesting to learn more about the “Pawn Stars” cast. It should be noted they’re scheduled to make occasional appearances in the show.

Pawn Stars
The “Pawn Stars” cast, embracing their fame with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

“Pawn Shop Live” is also pretty cheap. General admission tickets are $27.45, regular admission costs $32.95 and premium seats cost $43.95. All the seats in the hotel’s Gordie Brown Theater are pretty good, and are even better when Gordie Brown is not performing there.

We’re thinking there will be lots of discounted ticket offers floating around, so keep an eye out.

Pawn Stars
Bunny ears. It’s a thing.

The show runs Tuesday through Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

Overall, Pawn Shop Live provides some laughs, and is a worthwhile diversion for fans of the “Pawn Stars” series.

It’s perhaps best to think of “Pawn Shop Live” as a work-in-progress, with infinite potential. The show’s producers should be careful about calling it “Broadway-style,” though. Exaggeration is a technique of satire, and this isn’t that.

Pawn Shop Live