Student predicts game show win in play



Laney Kraus-Taddeo and her mom, Susan Kraus, won the Big Deal on "Let's Make A Deal" last July. The episode aired last month.

SOFIA LEGASPI, Campus Life Editor

The phrase “life imitates art” became all too real for one UNI student when a play she had written about winning a game show eerily predicted the future.

Senior digital media production and performance major Laney Kraus-Taddeo wrote “PAT,” a one-act play based on her love of game shows for a Fall 2017 scriptwriting class. She submitted it to the Interpreter’s Theatre in April 2018 and received the go-ahead to direct it. By July 2018, she won the same game show that was portrayed in the script with a few details between fiction and reality that were spot-on.

“I had kept that secret since July 19th,” Kraus-Taddeo said, whose play premiered last November. “It was excruciating because I was working on a show about winning on ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ and could not tell anyone during the entire time I was working on the show. So the actors never knew, and there would be moments where it would almost slip. […] I’m not a very good secret-keeper, so this was a very exciting moment for me that I kept it.”

In Kraus-Taddeo’s play, titled “PAT,” the protagonist and her mother embark on an adventure to find a contestant from the 1980’s game show “Card Sharks.” Along the way, they have the opportunity to watch “Let’s Make a Deal.”

“My mom and her friends would always watch game shows when they would be sick from school, and that tradition has stuck through my family and my experiences growing up,” Kraus-Taddeo said. “And so we would always tune in when we could.”

In July, she tagged along with her mother, Susan Kraus, on a conference trip to California. They had acquired tickets to “Let’s Make a Deal” but nearly decided not to go.

“We almost didn’t make it to the show because there was so much bad traffic in Los Angeles, and my mom was like, are you sure you wanna sit in 40-minute traffic?” Kraus-Taddeo said. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, who knows? We could win a car or something!’ And while we didn’t win a car, we did win the Big Deal, which was amazing.”

Right before the show started, a production assistant handed plastic leis to Kraus-Taddeo and her mom, both decked out in tutus, and told them to put them on.

“And [Wayne Brady] comes out, he’s like, ‘We’re looking for a pair. We’re looking for two people. How about you with the leis?’” Kraus-Taddeo said. “And we’re like, ‘Woohoo, yay, who’s that?’ And then my mom starts dragging me up there, and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s us!’”

After winning an expensive  Sea-Doo, Kraus-Taddeo and her mom were eligible to trade it in for a chance at the Big Deal at the end of the show. Given that they lived in land-locked Iowa, Kraus-Taddeo said it was an easy decision to give it up and go for the Big Deal.

Presented with three mystery prizes, Kraus-Taddeo and her mother were challenged to guess which curtain concealed the grand prize. They chose the second curtain for several reasons: they were wearing “two-twos” (tutus), there were two of them, there was number two in the prize value of $21,807, and “two is better than one.” Most importantly, the characters in Kraus-Taddeo’s play had chosen curtain number two — and won.

After Kraus-Taddeo revealed that curtain number two was opened last in “PAT,” Brady decided they would do it in the same order.

“And I was like, ‘Oh, why did I write it that way?’ Because it was so much more anxiety and tension, and there was so much more to wait for, and I’m not a patient person!” Kraus-Taddeo said. “And so it was funny. He was laughing, and everyone was laughing.”

Once it became evident that they had won the big prize, Kraus-Taddeo began jumping and screaming, “We did it!”

“It all happened like it did in the play!” Brady said.

The curtains for prize number two parted, revealing a television and a living room set.

“I remember the producer kind of just waving me down, like, ‘That’s not it yet!’” Kraus-Taddeo recalled. “Because I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a really expensive couch! Like, that is a fancy-schmancy couch! But then the TV [screen] swipes and it’s a trip to the South Pacific!”

When the episode aired in December, Kraus-Taddeo hosted a viewing party with friends, cast members and even professors. Seeing herself on screen was an interesting experience.

“I feel like -— you know, I’m kind of crazy — but when I watched myself, I was much crazier than I thought I was,” Kraus-Taddeo said. “I mean, I did the ‘Worm’ on national television.”

According to Kraus-Taddeo, “Let’s Make a Deal” contestants are barred from re-appearing on the show for a minimum of one year and a day. In the meantime, she plans to finish up her education and continue writing.

“So I’ve got a year, but I also have a trip to go on,” she said with a smile.