We gave it a B+
New installments of I Love Lucy haven’t been filmed since 1960, but thanks to a brand-new stage production at L.A.’s Greenway Court Theatre, you can still attend a taping of the TV classic. Wednesday through Sunday, the Greenway Court puts on the boisterous I Love Lucy: Live on Stage, which simulates what a live Friday-night taping of the show at the iconic Desilu Studios might have been like.
Two episodes from the Lucy vault, ”The Benefit” and ”Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined,” are rather magically brought to life in their entirety. The period sets (the apartment at 623 E. 68th St. and the Tropicana), dialogue, and costumes contribute to a fun throwback atmosphere, but this fizzing production almost entirely turns on the cast, which is led by Lucy Ricardo impersonator Sirena Irwin. The star may appear to be hamming it up, but any true Lucy fan will understand that she has studied the late comedienne intensely and is simply invoking all the little tics — those googly-eyed stares, those ”Awwww, Ricky!” moments, those horrid attempts at singing — that made Lucy so memorably lovable. Bill Mendieta nails the more even-keeled rhythm of Ricky Ricardo. And don’t worry about the Mertzes. Bill Chott and Lisa Joffrey are both able to bring cantankerous neighbors Fred and Ethel to life.
At times, the production can seem cheesy and over-the-top, but those moments are mostly forgivable because the action is set in the happy-happy-happy 1950s. Also, lots of that cheese provides fondue-ready fun, particularly when it plays on the trappings of actual episode tapings. The show even includes an energetic host (Mark Christopher Tracy), cast members embedded in the audience, and live sponsor commercials (complete with jingles!) for products like Alka-Seltzer and Mr. Clean. B+
(Tickets: ilovelucylive.com or 800-595-4849)