“I Love Lucy ® Live on Stage,” recently extended at Water Tower Place’s Broadway Playhouse, will bring back memories for some theater-goers and give others a wonderful example of why the show and early advertising jingles became classics.
Indeed, with all the tapes and re-showings of early television favorites you don’t have to have lived half a century ago to know about the iconic characters that came into many American living rooms in black and white during the 1950s.
The same holds true for such slogans in the show as, Bryl Creem’s “A little dab’ll do ya” “Halo,” “See the USA in your Chevrolet” and “Speedy Alka-Seltzer.”
Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz brought housewife and entertainer-wannabe Lucy and band-leader/singer Ricky Ricardo into homes Monday nights on CBS as a Desilu Production. When audiences see “Lucy” at the Broadway in Chicago Playhouse, they will feel as if they are in a Hollywood TV studio watching the taping of two segments interspersed with sponsors' jingles.
Old-style TV camera props imprinted with Desilu roll across the stage, particularly during “commercials.” An “Applause” sign lights up above the stage. Ed Kross, as Desilu Playhouse host Maury Jasper, interacts with the audience in perfect studio-host fashion. The year is 1952 which costume designer Shon LeBlanc nailed including those seamed stockings women wore that never wanted to stay straight.
Part of a segment has retakes as it would during a taping. A costume change and make-up freshening is done on stage. The left curtain draws back to reveal Ricky Ricardo’s Tropicana Club and the show's live band. The right curtain reveals the Ricardo’s living room set. Other activities take place as they would in a TV studio.
But the main reason to go is to see Broadway World Winners Sirena Irwin (best actress in a touring production) and Bill Mendieta (Smash and Hunchback) who have joined the extension cast as Lucy and Ricky and to see Curtis Pettyjohn and Joanna Daniels who are continuing their roles as Fred and Ethel Mertz.
Their TV segments, “The benefit” and “Lucy has her eyes examined,” really are funny and a delight to watch.
Staged and directed by Rick Sparks with adaption and new material by Kim Flagg and Sparks, the show is a fine counter to January and February doldrums.
“I Love Lucy ® Live on Stage” has currently been extended through March 3, 2013. Tickets are $35-$85. For more information and tickets call 312-977-1710 and visit Broadway in Chicago.
The Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place is at 175 E. Chestnut St., Chicago, IL 60611.