By MIKE CHAIKEN
Mark L. Walberg was a fan of game shows as a kid.
Walberg, calling from his home in Los Angeles, said as he was growing up he loved to watch shows like “The Price is Right,” “$10,000 Pyramid”… and “Let’s Make A Deal.”
Now Walberg not only can claim to be a fan of “Let’s Make A Deal,” he gets to claim his spot as host of “Let’s Make A Deal Live Stage Show,” which comes to Foxwoods Resort Casino this week.
Walberg may be best known to many as host of “Antiques Roadshow,” but he has plenty of experience with game shows. He has hosted programs like “The Moment of Truth,” “Test the Nation,” “Russian Roulette,” and he has toured with a live stage production of “The Price is Right.”
By hosting the live “Let’s Make A Deal,” Walberg will be stepping into the shoes left behind by one of the most iconic game show hosts in television history: Monty Hall (who is pushing on to 94 years old now).
Walberg said when he watched “Let’s Make A Deal” as a child, he kind of took what Monty Hall did each episode for granted. But as he grew older and he hosted his own shows, Walberg recognized the amount of work that went into being not only a host but in Hall’s case, host and producer.
Walberg said Hall had to be on top of all the possible outcomes that might happen during the course of an episode as contestants won and lost.
Plus, Hall had the task as host of being “your best friend the devil at the same time… It was an incredibly deft line to walk.”
As the host of the live version of “Let’s Make A Deal,” Walberg acknowledges that he has some pretty prominent predecessors. Not only was Hall the host of the classic “Let’s Make A Deal,” comedian Wayne Brady took over hosting duties in 2009.
“He’s brilliant,” said Walberg of Brady. Brady is playful and the game show almost becomes an improv outlet for the comedian.
For Walberg, serving as host for any game show is not about becoming a character at center stage. “I play me,” said Walberg. “That’s why I’m a host and not an actor.”
“I approach this as I do for any game show,” said Walberg, everyone is having a good time and he’s rooting for the contestants to win some good stuff. For him, he said it’s all about the audience living vicariously threw the experience of the contestants. And he wants to make it fun for the contestants on stage, he said.
As for why Walberg wanted to be part of the “Let’s Make A Deal” live show, Walberg explained he used to be a warm-up performer for game shows. But as his career progressed, he began to spend less and less time before an audience. So the live game shows give him a chance to play around and improvise like he used to.
Plus, Walberg is quick to say, he gets to give away a lot of great stuff.
The tour of “Let’s Make A Deal Live Stage Show” is still in its early stages, said Walberg. One of its first stops was in Indiana. “We had a blast. It was really fun… We had a great time and we gave away some great stuff.”
Most game shows are filmed in Los Angeles in a set studio each week. And although fans in L.A are excited to be picked for the shows, Walberg said there is a sense of jadedness among the L.A. set.
Traveling with the show, said Walberg, “You find as you get 30 miles out of LA, you start to remember what people are really like. It’s refreshing.” In places like the midwest or on the east coast, he said, he can see the absolute joy in the faces of those people picked to play the game.
Meeting the contestants is one of the aspects of the live show that appeals to Walberg.
For the touring version of “Let’s Make A Deal,” Walberg said he likes that the show doesn’t screen the contestants before hand. Contestants are selected through a drawing, said Walberg.
“I never know who is showing up on stage,” said Walberg, who finds that type of surprise a thrill as a host.
Making a pitch for the shows in Connecticut, Walberg said, “Foxwoods is awesome. The show is a blast. Even if you don’t dress up, it’s fun to see what other people wear. And since it’s around Halloween, you can get another use out of that costume.”
Plus, said Walberg, repeating a theme throughout the interview, “We give out a lot of great stuff.”
This will be a chance to be a winner at the casino, without having to lay down a bet, said Walberg.
“Let’s Make A Deal Live Stage Show” is at the Fox Theater, Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket now through Saturday, Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and are available at foxwoods.com
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN