The acknowledged truth is that nothing will ever match the amazing talent and charm of the original 1950’s television sitcom “I Love Lucy®”and its true super stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. So what S. Kahn Presents, Inc and Millrock have brought to the Greenway Court Theatre is an absolutely brilliant and utterly engaging tribute to that iconic television show.
The show actually begins as you enter the theatre court yard. The ladies supporting the show are dressed in a very charming 1950’s style. When the house opens one is struck by a set which clearly sets the stage for the television show to come. The show begins as the cameramen jockey for position and Mark Christopher Tracy in his role as “host” steps out with his headset and begins to work the audience. Then we are on our way back to a simpler time when the popular music actually had words you could understand.
The center piece is, of course, “Lucy” played with obvious very well tuned and focused passion by the truly amazing Sirena Irwin. Actually Sirena doesn’t really “play” Lucy she has become Lucy for this play. “Ricky Ricardo” is presented with perfection by Bill Mendieta. The other half of the iconic quartette “Fred Mertz” is credibly performed by Bill Chott and “Ethel Mertz” is delivered at star level by Lisa Joffrey. The premise is simple, we are at the “filming” of two episodes of “I Love Lucy” and these stars truly shine as the story unfolds.
But there is so much more. The singing commercials of the era are delivered with panache and wit. Anyone under 50 years of age will likely not recall most of them including the hilarious “Brylcreem” commercial where the audience learns that “a little dab will do ya” arguably making that commercial the first rap song. And then there is the inter action with audience members including the outrageous lady from Kankakee. Illinois.
One of the real treats of the show is the “Ricky Ricardo Orchestra” live at the “Tropicana” nightclub in New York City. It is truly magic how Director Rick Sparks and Set Designer Aaron Henderson managed to turn a relatively diminutive stage into a credible television set, apartment and nightclub, but they did it and they did it extremely well.
I was amazed and thrilled by the surprisingly rich matrix of diverse actions that permeated the total performance. One element that remained consistent was the absolute hilarity of this great show. I frankly cannot remember any performance in any venue in recent time that caused me to laugh so long and so hard. But it also clearly told the story and paid proper homage to the original “I Love Lucy®.” When it ended I was filled with warmth and joy. From the audience reaction I would say that we all shared that feeling because this was the first time I have ever experienced a standing ovation in a small venue. It was completely deserved and it was a proper acknowledgement to every single cast and crew member who made it happen, every single one of whom was on the top of their game.
The producers have bigger plans and I hope it all happens because this show deserves worldwide exposure. But for now it belongs to Los Angeles and lucky we are. “I Love Lucy® - Live On Stage”
is at the Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036 now through December 30, 2011. Show dates are Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 8 pm and Sundays at 7 pm. There are some blackout dates so do call for exact dates and times. The number is 800-595-4849 or you may visit their website at www.ilovelucylive.com. Tickets are $34 and there are no bad seats in the house. This is the best thing to brighten Los Angeles in a very long time. Give yourself a treat and go see it while you can.
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