Review: I love Lucy – Live on Stage
If you’ve ever been in a television audience during the taping of a show, you’ll feel right at home during this stage production. The setting is 1952, in the Desilu Playhouse, where studio audience members await the filming of two hilarious and oh-so-familiar I LOVE LUCY® episodes, “The Benefit” and “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined.” A charming host entertains and enlightens the crowd to the behind-the-scenes filming process of a brand new thing called “television,” the Crystaltone Singers perform advertising jingles in perfect 50s style harmony and the sidesplitting antics of America’s favorite foursome – Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel – are presented live on stage and in color for the very first time! It’s a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience TV Guide’s William Keck calls “the most entertaining stage production I’ve seen in years – including Broadway!”
It’s impossible to write a review of this performance without “Spoilers”, so what I will do is put up some photos and let you imagine the rest. The live commercial jingles are great entertainment in themselves, and there’s some audience participation. Lasting right at 2 hours, this is a thoroughly entertaining production, complete with flubbed lines and laughter both on stage and off.
Sirena Irwin and Bill Mendieta lead the company as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, reprising the roles they created in the original Los Angeles and Chicago productions. Kevin Remington and Joanna Daniels play Fred and Ethel Mertz, the Ricardo’s loveable landlords and sidekicks. The cast also includes Sarah Elizabeth Combs, Gregory Franklin, Peter Kevoian, Jayme Lake, Carlos Martin, Tyler Milliron, Denise Moses, Cindy Sciacca, Jeffrey Christopher Todd, Mark Christopher Tracy, Carolynne Warren and Tamara Zook.
The iconic hit sitcom I LOVE LUCY® originally aired on CBS from 1951 – 1957 for a total of six seasons and 179 episodes and is widely considered to be one of the most popular programs in the history of television. Due in no small part to its relatable characters, sharp comedic writing and Lucille Ball’s signature zany charm, the show continues to endear new audiences with every passing generation. The program was a technical trailblazer, pioneering the multi-camera shooting technique (still employed by the majority of traditional sitcoms to this day) and the use of 35mm film for the capture of a weekly, 30-minute scripted television program (which made possible the re-airing of episodes at a later date, what we now know as “reruns”). In September 2012, I LOVE LUCY® was named the “Best TV Show Of All Time” and the “Greatest TV Comedy” by People Magazine and ABC’s “20/20” special “Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time.”
Now showing at the Murat Theater at Old National Center in Indianapolis through February 16th, this is a solid production and well worth checking out. See a few stills from the gallery below. All photos, copyright Larry Philpot 2014