'Lucy Loves Desi' goes behind-the-scenes of the iconic TV show - Albuquerque Journal

‘Lucy Loves Desi’ goes behind-the-scenes of the iconic TV show

Lucy Loves Desi
The traveling theater piece, “Lucy Loves Desi” will make a stop at Popejoy Hall on Friday, Jan. 20. (Courtesy of L.A. Theatre Works)

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz became icons with “I Love Lucy.”

Decades later, they’ve inspired the theater piece, “Lucy Loves Desi,” which is written by Gregg Oppenheimer.

The traveling show from L.A. Theatre Works makes a stop at Popejoy Hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20.

Oppenheimer is the son of “I Love Lucy” creator, producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the show.

With its onscreen pairing of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, “I Love Lucy” remains one of the most popular TV shows in history. Who would have thought that to get on the air, they had to battle both a network and a sponsor who thought the show couldn’t possibly succeed?

“This is a comedy about the comedy business,” says Gregg Oppenheimer. “It’s a true story, but sometimes it almost feels like an episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ itself.”

Much of the play is based on Jess Oppenheimer’s memoir, “Laughs, Luck … and Lucy,” which Gregg Oppenheimer coauthored with his father.

Gregg Oppenheimer says the audience might be surprised to learn that necessity drove many of the show’s famous groundbreaking innovations: the multi-episode story arc, the baby story line, the flashback show and the rerun were all devised to address Ball’s surprise pregnancy (and maternity leave) in the show’s second season.

The cast includes Ellis Greer as Ball, Bill Mendieta as Desi Arnaz, Laila Ayad as Vivian Vance and Tom Virtue as William Frawley.

Ozzie Rodriguez plays CBS executive Harry Ackerman, and Gerard Marzilli portrays show creator Jess Oppenheimer.

Directing is Brendon Fox, who has previously directed three L.A. Theatre Works national tours.

The creative team includes scenic and lighting designer Yelena Babinskaya, costume designer Carin Jacobs, sound designer Andrea Allmond and video designer Sean Cawelti. MC Mangum is the technical director and stage manager.

For over three decades, L.A. Theatre Works has been the leading radio theater company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions.

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