Wheel of Fortune: Game show hits the stage with trips, cash

Clay Aiken is looking forward to bringing “Wheel of Fortune” back to Arizona Thursday, November 3. (Submitted)

Editor’s Note: The Maricopa dates for the “Wheel of Fortune Live” tour have been canceled.

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Clay Aiken wasn’t overly sold when he was approached to host the “Wheel of Fortune Live” tour. 

“I wasn’t skeptical, I’d say,” Aiken explains. 

“‘Wheel of Fortune’ is legendary, and there’s no game show that’s more popular in the America, etc. How to make it work live was something I was very curious about, and — holy crap — it does work. It really does.”

The tour comes to the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, formerly the Tucson Music Hall, on Thursday, November 3, and Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino on Friday, November 4, and Saturday, November 5, with Aiken as host. 

During “Wheel of Fortune Live,” guests can audition to go onstage and feel like they stepped into the game show. Randomly selected players will have the chance to spin a replica of the iconic wheel and solve the puzzles to win prizes, including up to $10,000 in cash and trips to the likes of Paris and Hawaii at every show. Additionally, hundreds of audience members can win cash and prizes.

“It’s so fun,” he says. “Audiences lose their absolute minds. I’ve been on tour 11 times on my own with my own shows. In all the years I’ve been touring, I wish I had audiences who were that fun, but I’m not giving away trips to Paris at my concerts. They have a reason to be more excited about ‘Wheel of Fortune.’ It’s really fun to watch.”

Aiken recently starred on Broadway, alongside Ruben Studdard, in “Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show” at the Imperial Theater. 

This came 10 years after Aiken’s Broadway debut in Monty Python’s “Spamalot.” On the heels of “American Idol,” he became the first artist to have his first single debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. 

His subsequent album, “Measure of a Man,” also debuted at No. 1 with the highest first-week sales by a debut artist. His 2004 holiday release, “Merry Christmas with Love,” set a record for the fastest-selling holiday album of the SoundScan era and remains tied for the highest-charting debut of a holiday album. 

The father to son Parker, Aiken served nine years as a UNICEF ambassador and in 2003 co-founded, with Diane Bubel, what is now the National Inclusion Project to advocate and increase opportunities for children with disabilities to be included in extracurricular activities (such as summer camps and after-school programs) with their nondisabled peers.

Aiken is looking forward to bringing “Wheel of Fortune” back to Arizona. 

“Everyone in America is a fan of ‘Wheel of Fortune,’” he says. “It’s been on for 40 years. Even if you’re not a nightly viewer, you’ve seen clips on YouTube. Holy crap. It’s the game that more people play in their living room than anything else. 

“‘Jeopardy’ is wonderful, sure. There’s only a subset of people who are smart enough for that. ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is the most accessible and approachable game show. We can all sit at home and play it. To do that in person and get to spin the wheel, I’m surprised it took this long.” 

“Wheel of Fortune Live”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 3
WHERE: The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, formerly the Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Avenue, Tucson
COST: Tickets start at $38
INFO: 520-791-4101, tucsonmusichall.org

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, November 4, and Saturday, November 5
WHERE: Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, 15406 Maricopa Road, Maricopa
COST: Tickets start at $38.50
INFO: caesars.com/harrahs-ak-chin/shows