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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reimagined and In Color: "I Love Lucy" Leaves the TV for the Stage

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Thea Brooks as Lucy and Euriamis Losada as Ricky in I Love Lucy® Live On Stage - ED KRIEGER
  • Ed Krieger
  • Thea Brooks as Lucy and Euriamis Losada as Ricky in I Love Lucy® Live On Stage

Any actress who takes on the iconic role of Lucille Ball must be massively talented, or completely crazy — possibly both. Luckily for San Franciscans, the slapstick-adept Thea Brooks brings an authentic Lucy to SHN’s run of I Love Lucy Live On Stage, now playing on Geary’s Curran Theatre.

Brooks is adorable as Lucy and is supported by Euriamis Losada as Ricky Ricardo. With his full, gorgeous voice, and a big smile that generates palpable swoons from the audience, the couple play off of each other sweetly in the 95-minute musical. Based off of two episodes, 1952’s “The Benefit” and 1953’s “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined," in this live version, the theater audience is turned into the studio audience, watching the filming of the two episodes.

Already containing several song and dance numbers in the plot (it’s safe to assume that the producers chose these particular episodes because they showcase Lucy’s love for showbiz in the original series I Love Lucy, where she was always trying to get Ricky to feature her in his productions), the musical numbers are beefed up by vignettes of “commercial breaks," contests, and phony interactions with planted audience members — all of which are delightfully over the top, and serve as a throwback to the nature of the show when it aired in the 1950s.

click to enlarge Euriamis Losada (Ricky Ricardo) and Thea Brooks (Lucy Ricardo) in the national tour of I Love Lucy® Live On Stage - JUSTIN NAMON
  • Justin Namon
  • Euriamis Losada (Ricky Ricardo) and Thea Brooks (Lucy Ricardo) in the national tour of I Love Lucy® Live On Stage
A few times “during the filming” the cast flubs up a line or will have to reset. In these sections, the actors briefly relax their characters, but any sort of true behind-the-scenes look at Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are decidedly not a part of I Love Lucy Live on Stage, and are more or less glossed over.

Overall, the production is a charming and easy show that does a swell job of keeping the original I Love Lucy voice. And while a few of the jokes seem a little archaic for contemporary audiences, (watching a group of people laugh at a Cuban man’s accented English, or casting the heaviest actress to play the dumpy, over-the-hill beauty queen feels a bit strange in 2014) the majority of the gags were goofy, harmless, and able to stand the test of time.

SHN presents "I Love Lucy" Live on Stage playing now until November 23 at the Curran Theatre (445 Geary). Tickets are $45-$135; call (888) 746-1799 or visit shnsf.com
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Laura Jaye Cramer

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