We were leaving the Arsht Center the other night after watching I Love Lucy Live on Stage when the friendly young Miami policeman who was guiding us through the traffic asked me how I'd enjoyed the show. I shrugged and gave one my best "meh" and he laughed and said: “That's what everyone seems to be saying.”
It's not that it's a really bad show; it's big but it's lighter than cotton candy. Ever tried to chew that stuff?
The premise: we're a studio audience in the Desilu Playhouse in California and we're watching the filming of two episodes of the original 1950s show.
It's a ninety minute one-acter with, unfortunately, no highlights. Euriamis Losada as Ricky Ricardo comes closest. He looks, talks and sings like the original and his Babalu is just terrific, but far too short. Much less of Mark Christopher Tracy as the Desilu Playhouse host who spends endless minutes on the hokie audience warmups and more on the Losada talent would be aces here.
As for the two episodes being filmed live in front of us… well, they're kind of fun… for a while. But the old shticks are just that: old shticks. The leads try hard to emulate the originals, and Kevin Remington and Lori Hammel as Fred and Ethel Mertz do well. But Thea Brooks as Lucy doesn't quite make it. She's tall, she's slim, she moves well and has all the Lucy mannerisms but she lacks the innate humor of the original. She's acting and it's evident.
The old singing commercials are fillers for the scene changes and while the singers are okay and move well, these old ads are no more entertaining now than they were then. Specialty numbers by the Pleasant Peasants and the Crystaltone Singers are no better than those you'd see in any regional playhouse. Sixty year old material is just that. The novelty has no life span.
There's supposed audience participation (shills perhaps?).
On the bright side: Brilliant costuming, excellent music from the six piece band.
Plenty of people laughed at the old stuff. But likeable just isn't enough. And as Tallulah once said: “There's less here than meets the eye.”
I Love Lucy Live on Stage plays through Oct. 5 at the Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.