It is 1952, and if you’re looking for a laugh, there’s no better place than the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse with tickets to a taping of the hit TV show “I Love Lucy.” Now in 2014, there is a chance for you to hobnob with the stars, get a peek behind the scenes and marvel at your favorite program live in living color.
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts takes audiences on a side-splitting trip back to the golden age of Hollywood with its hilarious production of “I Love Lucy Live on Stage,” running through Oct. 5.
The show was originally produced in Los Angeles in 2011, and after sold-out runs there and in Chicago, it embarked upon an ongoing national tour in 2013. The production simulates the full experience of a taping of two back-to-back episodes of “I Love Lucy,” complete with a host, advertising jingles, and of course, the outrageous adventures of Lucy, Ricky and all their friends.
The production is the best kind of comfort food comedy: chock-full of broad slapstick, groan-worthy puns, and wacky hijinks. On top of the classic jokes of Lucille Ball’s beloved sitcom, the framework of the live taping provides another dimension of comedic possibilities – the menace of “new-fangled portable movie cameras” to banter and trivia games featuring the studio audience led by host Maury Jasper (Mark Christopher Tracy). Tracy is indefatigably charming and warm in his role, ushering the crowd through the evening with the authentic bravado of a master showman.
Of course, the real stars of the show are Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, brought vividly to life by Thea Brooks and Euriamis Losada, respectively. With big shoes to fill, the pair delivers with overflowing energy and panache.
Brooks is the consummate comedienne, mugging for the camera and executing pratfalls with comic flair that would make her predecessor proud. Losada, like Desi Arnaz in real life, is the perfect straight man to Brooks’ over-the-top Lucy, and possesses a remarkable singing voice. It is the crackling chemistry between the two that gives the show its sparkle, as they serve up punch lines for each other like a well-oiled machine. A highlight of the night was the pair’s duet of “Under the Bamboo Tree,” which closes the first episode; a textbook example of comedy at its finest.
It has been nearly 60 years since “I Love Lucy” went off the air, but the sitcom’s timeless jokes still have audiences rolling in their seats. You won’t need an applause sign to tell you to stand up and cheer for “I Love Lucy Live on Stage” at the Arsht Center.
If You Go:
Where: The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, Fla. 33132
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday through Oct. 5; Matinees 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: Tickets range from $26 to $89
Contact: 305-949-6722 and arshtcenter.org
The Mahoney and Pearson College Council will be taking students to the show on Thursday. The program is free and includes dinner. To sign up, visit the front desk of Mahoney or Pearson.
Featured photo courtesy of Broadway Across America, by Hyra George.