Mark L. Walberg, left, serves as host of “Wheel of...

Mark L. Walberg, left, serves as host of “Wheel of Fortune Live!” at Tilles Center.  Credit: Mason Aschenbrenner

When the freewheeling live stage version of the popular game show “Wheel of Fortune” lands at Tilles Center in Brookville on Oct. 7, who gets to spin the big wheel, solve the puzzle-board and potentially win oodles of cash is anybody’s guess.

Unlike the rigorously auditioned TV version, “We’re not vetting any of our contestants. They’re coming right out of the audience,” said Mark L. Walberg, host of “Wheel of Fortune Live!” The event is being billed as the first “theatrical experience” of the syndicated game show, which just began its 40th season.  

Walberg, taking a break from moderating USA Network’s “Temptation Island” reality TV dating competition, is sharing hosting duties with vocalist and “American Idol” season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken on the 60-date national road tour. Actress Kalpana Pot stands in for Vanna White revealing letters at the puzzle board.

Kalpana Pot reveals the letters at “Wheel of Fortune Live!”

Kalpana Pot reveals the letters at “Wheel of Fortune Live!” Credit: Mason Aschenbrenner

CHANNELING PAT SAJAK  

Walberg said that subbing for Pat Sajak, TV’s longest-tenured game show host known for his calm demeanor and quick wit, requires “a different vibe” than his longtime gig emceeing PBS’ top-rated “Antiques Roadshow” or navigating “Temptation Island” couples drama.

WHAT “Wheel of Fortune Live!”

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m., Oct. 7, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, LIU Post, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville

INFO $41-$93; 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org

“So far I haven’t had to have a bonfire moment on ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ ” Walberg joked while making a nod to “Temptation Island.” “The only tears have been tears of joy.”

Walberg, a self-proclaimed “Wheel Watcher” since attending a Los Angeles taping in the 1980s, said that as host “I’m learning on my feet,” trying to match “Pat’s vibe, his confidence and swagger,” while adding his own “higher energy” and a helping of his own native South Carolinian charm.   

“We had a woman last night, bless her heart, she kept trying to buy a vowel, but she didn’t have any points,” Walberg said by phone while preparing for a show — and sipping a local Cheerwine cherry soda — in Wilmington, North Carolina. “I told her, ‘You gotta have something to buy it with, sugar’.” As the woman just stared at the puzzle board, Walberg again coaxed her to “give me a letter.” She drawled back, “I’m thinking!” 

A “Wheel of Fortune Live!” contestant shows off a tag...

A “Wheel of Fortune Live!” contestant shows off a tag for a bonus prize. Credit: Mason Aschenbrenner

'A BIG PARTY' WITH PRIZES

Thus far, “Wheel of Fortune Live!” has been like “a big party,” Walberg says. “People are playing along. You can hear them rumbling in the audience that they can guess quicker than the people on stage.”

The Wheel Watchers in Tilles Center’s 2,000-seat concert hall can expect “a celebration of the show that we all love — a little slice of what it might be like to be in Hollywood and see the show, but we’re bringing it to you,” he said.

Walberg will warm up the crowd with a round of applause for Sajak and White, and a promise that there will be “more winners tonight than on one TV episode.”

Fifteen audience members will be chosen at random to appear on stage. They’ll play five toss-up puzzles with the nine fastest guessers making it to the wheel — actually a replica of the iconic spinner — in a trio of three-player games.

In another departure from the TV version, early rounds are being played for points, not money, Walberg said. But if fortune smiles, bonus round players can win up to $10,000 and dream vacations to Paris or Hawaii, according to the show’s producers.

If Walberg smiles, it may be that the crossword and Wordle addict can’t resist the temptation to silently play along. “I’m doing pretty well,” he said. “I wouldn’t be a champion, but think I can hold my own.”

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