Lost, confused,and a terrible idea is what defines “I Love Lucy” Live on Stage. It was recently shown at the Orpheum this past week in Minneapolis. This below average play brings the iconic roles on the TV show of the same to your local theater. In this two hour one act “play” you get to see the filming of two famous episodes with the name of “The Benefit” and “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined”. It was as if you were on a Universal Studios interactive ride that doesn’t allow you to leave.
Audience interaction was used consistently trying to make it seem as if you were teleporting back in time. Which seems like a swell idea but the execution was poor through out the story. After one scene of the TV show was being filmed they would have five minute commercial songs that contained predictable choreography and expected harmonies. It was as if they took all of the cliches from musical theatre and shoved it into one song after the next. The range of simple lyrics contained from singing about Chevrolets to hair cream.
Throughout the show there was this feeling that everyone in the audience wanted it to get better. After all when you spend so much money on a failed experience the only thing you have is hope. But, once the audience lights were brought up to a light dim for the tenth time the announcer talked to the crowd, people snuck out there phones to check their texts. That way they wouldn’t be caught by the ushers with the bright shine from their screen.
The cast as a whole didn’t enjoy what they were doing and you could see it in their blocking and body expressions during the show. Euriamis Losada (Ricky Ricardo), Kevin Remington (Fred Merts), and Lori Hammel (Ethel Mertz) had studied the dialectic of the TV show and it was shown. The way they spoke and acted was projected well into the eyes and ears of the audience. Thea Brooks (Lucy Ricardo) was struggling with the iconic role, but can we blame her? Lucille Ball IS Lucy Ricardo.
Shame on the creators for thinking there would be a way for the show to translate well on stage. The reason the TV show was a hit was because of the facial expressions and the hilarious blocking that filled your screen. It would be just as good to re watch these episodes in the comfort of your home. At least that way you would be able to get up to go to the bathroom and be on to another Netflix binge watching experience in 40 minutes instead of two hours.
In order to make this show a success there needs to be a change of the script and book that emphasizes things that may have happened back stage that caused tension. There shouldn’t be a stress on “redoing” famous episodes with actors that could have been pulled from any tourist street in Hollywood and would’ve done just as well because there is no depth to the play. “I Love Lucy” Live on Stage just adds to the list of another sad rendition of unoriginal ideas in the Broadway business.