THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Fans of ‘Pawn Stars’ see a golden opportunity

Cast members from History Channel reality show to analyze local treasures on stage in Worcester

By Geoff Edgers
Globe Staff / February 26, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

As soon as he heard that Rick, Chumlee, and the other “Pawn Stars’’ were coming to Worcester, Steve Steenstra thought of that old flask. He found it earlier this winter in the woods. Would the stars of the History Channel’s smash hit reality show offer him cold, hard cash for the mysterious find?

Marlo Maynard is another of the millions each week who watch “Pawn Stars,’’ which follows the action at a family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas. When she heard that the “Pawn Stars Gold & Silver Road Show’’ would make its world premiere tomorrow at Worcester’s Hanover Theatre, the Grafton resident just knew she had to bring her great-grandmother’s old radio.

Then there’s Dan Burley, who, unlike the others, lives far from the city. This week, Burley and his two sisters packed up his blue Montana van and began the 6 1/2-hour drive from New Brunswick, Canada. They brought a pair of cleaned 16th-century coins recovered from a shipwreck. They’re hoping to strike gold with the traveling “Pawn Stars.’’

“I’ve noticed when Rick sees authentic sunken treasure he gets excited about it,’’ says Burley, 53, who runs the Lobster Bay Eatery in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. “He appears to be a history buff.’’

The producers of the “Pawn Stars Gold & Silver Road Show’’ are hoping tomorrow’s stage version of the TV program will tap into at least a fraction of the show’s television audience. A lot’s at stake. The 2,300-seat Hanover Theatre is a test ground, with the only other road stops currently scheduled in New Jersey.

“The box office numbers don’t lie, and the venues we work with around the country will be watching to see how the show does at Hanover,’’ said Tim Flaherty, president of Entertainment Events Inc., a New York production company that is presenting the show and that typically takes off-Broadway productions on tour.

The tour that brings Rick, Richard, and Corey Harrison, and their hapless helper, Austin “Chumlee’’ Russell, to Massachusetts is part of a reality-TV trend, as shows such as Cesar Millan’s “Pack Power Tour’’ and “The Guy Fieri Roadshow’’ take their stars to a live audience.

“You’ve got these folks who aren’t performers but celebrities, and people want to be around them and know them in a more intimate way,’’ said Flaherty.

“Pawn Stars’’ centers on the 24-hour Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. Since its premiere in 2009, the show has become a hit for the History Channel, and the Harrisons, not averse to colorful arguments, have become its everyman stars. Recent ratings have placed it as the second most popular show on cable after “Jersey Shore.’’

“They’re just regular guys,’’ says Steenstra, 25, who works at a junkyard, lives in West Boylston, and says he can identify with the cast. “I say it all the time at work. Somebody ought to make a show about this place.’’

Rick Harrison, who runs the shop with his father and son, said in a phone interview from Las Vegas this week that he’s excited for a chance to be onstage. The road show will allow the stars to talk about their lives and analyze the items brought to the theater. They’ll also have about $500,000 to spend, if needed.

“There’s no singing, no dancing,’’ said Harrison. “You come out and we talk about the show and talk about what things are worth.’’

Harrison said he will probably bring a pawn-shop steal that should hold quite a bit of local interest: A 2001 Patriots Super Bowl ring. He got it when Brock Williams, a forgotten and oft-injured Patriots cornerback, brought it in one day in exchange for a loan of a few thousand dollars. Another 2001 Super Bowl ring, encrusted with 143 diamonds, has sold at auction for close to $40,000.

“What you don’t see on television is most people get the money and never come back,’’ said Harrison. “Nevada law is that once you leave it here 120 days, it’s my property.’’

Told about Burley’s coins, Harrison already sounded as if he were positioning for a good deal.

“The problem is with a lot of these shipwrecks, they keep finding more and more and more,’’ he said. “It’s driving the price down. It’s just simple supply and demand. But I’d love to look at his stuff. And maybe make an offer.’’

Flaherty’s not looking for fans all across the state to stream to Worcester with their treasure chests, old guitars, and shark teeth. Several people have been preselected, after e-mailing the show’s producers, to bring their items to the Harrisons and potentially sell them.

Still, Flaherty knows there are bound to be fans showing up with unsolicited materials. “Listen, something cool may show up that they didn’t bother to e-mail us,’’ he said. “We’ll certainly take a look at it. Or you might have to sit with it in your lap the whole show or leave it in the parking lot.’’

That might be the case for Ryan DePesa, 24, who supervises resident assistants at Clark University.

He’s bringing an old exercise kit adorned by the bare-chested, ’70s-era, pre-Terminator version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. He found it in the attic at his family home and concedes it is in “rough condition.’’

And he has another confession.

“I listed it on eBay a few weeks ago for 99 cents and it didn’t sell,’’ he says, before asking a favor. “Just don’t tell Rick.’’

For tickets: 877-571-7469, www.TheHanoverTheatre.org. Geoff Edgers can be reached at gedgers@globe.com