Last night I attended the last performance of ‘I Love Lucy’ Live on Stage at the Royal Alexandra Theatre (‘Royal Alex’) starring Sirena Irwin (Lucy), Bill Mendieta (Ricky), Kevin Remington (Fred), and Joanna Daniels (Ethel.)
This is essentially a play within a play as those of us in the audience are representing the real audiences that went to watch I Love Lucy being recorded at Desilu. In the play, we ‘watch’ as two episodes of the show are ‘filmed’ – in this case the episodes The Benefit and Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined. We watch this all proceed, just like the live audiences 60 years ago did, as these episodes are recorded. We have a host from Desilu come out to welcome us to Desilu Studios for the recording and who explains what is going on during the filming.
Between the takes, we are provided with the commercials representing the different sponsors at the time such as Brylcreem and Chrysler.
The play is interesting this regard, and they even through in how they handled retakes should a mistake occur – in this case, it was between who was supposed to ask the question “What time is it?”, was it Lucy or Ethel. These mistakes, as our host explains, do occur from time to time during filming, so the audience should not be upset.
The whole evening was fun, and although the play runs 100 minutes without an intermission, the evening just flew by. It was amazing to think I had just sat for more than an hour and a half, as it felt like mere minutes had gone by.
All the cast, especially the main four performers, were wonderful. While it took the few minutes of the performance to realize that these were no the ‘real’ Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel, by the end of the performance you believed they were.
After 60 years, this play showed that everyone still can, and does, Love Lucy.