Every now and again people need some reminiscent and light-hearted comedy. I Love Lucy Live on Stage at the State Theater through January 25 provides just that. The classic duo originated by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz comes to life in this stage rendition. While the 1950’s humor may be a little tame for today’s modern audiences, the classic appeal of yesteryear bridges this generational gap.
The stage adaptation takes place on set of I Love Lucy. Audience members are part of the live studio audience as two new episodes of the sitcom are filmed. Along with the two episodes, audience members are treated to ceaseless banter from the Desilu Playhouse Host (Mark Christopher Tracy) and never-ending music-filled advertisements in between scenes that are performed by the various ensemble members.
All in all, the show is a nice reprieve from twenty-first century hustle and bustle. The two episodes are nearly identical to the originals, and with that comes heaps of clean fun and laughter. Helping guide the audience through the studio experience is the Desilu Playhouse Host. At first, his vibrant and quirky personality adds to the uniqueness of the show. However, there are too many breaks from the actual scenes of I Love Lucy. The hosts’ once cheerful and engaging banter turns tiresome midway during the show, only to be enhanced by the nauseating advertisement numbers that also fill the breaks in “filming.” However, the show shines in its core cast. Taking the lead of course is the one and only Lucy Ricardo (Thea Brooks). From most seats in the theater, the resemblance to the original TV character is striking. Complete with Lucy’s famous sounds and expressions, Brooks will surely delight anyone who loves Lucy. But what is Lucy without her equally loved husband, Ricky? Not to be outshined, Ricky Ricardo (Euriamis Losada) dazzles in his unabashed Cuban accent and singing power. He adds a unique Latin flare, mirroring his effect in the 50s.
While Ricky’s musicality adds a fun touch to the show, the numerous musical advertisements during scene breaks is overly redundant and corny. The ensemble cast has strong, cohesive voices, but overall, the various songs and dances distract from the main attraction: Lucy. A nonmusical show is a nice break from the whole slew of touring productions that are chock-full of singing and dancing. By expanding this production to include sporadic songs and dances, the show loses engagement and interest. Obviously, this approach is an attempt to add an additional dimension and remind people of the fun, corny nature of the 1950s. However, it makes the show longer than necessary and the audience wanting more action.
Overall, the concept of the show is worth seeing. Having a studio audience setting invites the audience to see how I Love Lucy was filmed back in the day, emphasizing the retrospective appeal of the show. Watching the episodes live is also a unique feature, especially for avid fans. The one problem with the two episodes is the fact there is not continuity between the two. Lucy performs at a charity benefit in one has her eyes examined in the other. The show is set up to reflect real-world filming, so connected episodes are not essential. However, it would make the show more cohesive and charming.
Silly spats and slapstick humor may not be or everyone, but if you loved Lucy on TV then you will love Lucy on stage. The only question is whether or not you’ll appreciate the superfluous details added to the play, such as the studio audience setting and advertisement musical numbers.