If you read Saturday’s post you know I was lucky enough to review the traveling production of I Love Lucy: Live on Stage, and probably more excited about it than most. Pretty much anything with Lucy on it excites me. I once ran across a theme park, losing my friends, in order to take a picture with a Lucy impersonator. Knowing this, I’ll try my best to give a fair review.
The show is set-up to make the audience feel like we are at an actual taping of the famous sitcom. There are scenes from Lucy and Ricky’s house as well as Ricky’s club set up, a director, a host to keep the crowd entertained and even performers to entertain (and advertise) between takes. It’s all set in the 1950’s and they don’t step out of this setting for even a moment. In fact we were never asked to turn off our cell phones, but we were reminded that those fancy pants 35mm cameras.
The play showed 2 episodes from I Love Lucy and a few outtakes between the scenes. Sirena Irwin and Bill Mendieta (Lucy and Ricky) are the stars of the show and truly do an amazing job embodying these classic characters. Their comedic timing is perfect, Ricky’s frustration is real and Lucy’s cries, crazy faces and antics are all there. Then, there’s Fred and Ethel, played by Kevin Remington and Joanna Daniels, they are equally as funny. Fred does little jigs and moves his big belly around the stage with no shame. Ethel is perhaps the most realistic of all the characters. Joanna manages to sound, look and act exactly like the Mrs. Mertz I grew up watching. It has everything you’d expect when watching any I Love Lucy episode.
It was a little odd to watch other actors perform such iconic roles and scenes. It was kind of like when some random American Idol contestant belts out your all-time favorite song, it just isn’t right. But, after about 15 minutes, I managed to be sucked in enough to feel like I was watching old episodes being played out in front of me. Since, I’m a sucker for cheesy comedies from the 50’s I really ate up the performances between the takes. They had the “Crystaltone Singers” dance and sing jingles for us to fill the commercial time. They sang about alka seltzer, shampoo and a myriad of other ridiculous products. It was cute, very funny and exactly what I imagine people enjoyed watching 50 years ago.
Overall, the show was great. Being a true I Love Lucy fan (or fanatic), made the experience very nostalgic and even a little magical. It was a very special experience. Husband is not an I Love Lucy fan. He never watched the show growing up and I’ve yet to convince him to watch the series, even though I have the entire collection on DVD in my nightstand. However, on the way home from the play he not only admitted to enjoying the show, but said he wants to go back and watch some of the episodes now.
I was glad we both loved the show, but I have to say that our entire experience was not exactly perfect, and it has nothing to do with the show itself. We have never ever in our entire lives sat around such rude and inappropriate people in an audience, and we have been to A LOT of shows. There was the “I’m with the media!” woman who insisted it was necessary to take crappy photos on her iPhone throughout the show. Then there was the drunk “I need to explain every joke and finish each line with the actors” girl, who actually began moving and dancing along with the actors. Husband was lucky enough to sit next to weezy-laughy-woohoo loudly through the entire show lady. And, in front of us was the “I can talk over the actors as much as I want because I apparently think I’m in my living room” old woman. At on point the girl next to me actually explained to me that when Ricky said “wild duck chase” it was funny because he means “wild goose chase”, get it? Clearly, these people have never been out of their house. It was so bad, that Husband and I couldn’t even stay irritated, we ended up just laughing at the whole ridiculous situation. We only wished we had a flask to turn it into a drinking game…if I could drink of course.
Anyways, you should definitely check out the show if you’re in Nashville, and if you aren’t the check out their touring calendar. Fans will adore it and even non-fans will enjoy it. Just try to sit by people who have at least a Kindergartner’s knowledge of proper theatre etiquette. If not, then pack a flask.