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L.A. Theatre Works’ 17th annual national tour brings hilarious
‘Lucy Loves Desi’ to performing arts venues across U.S.
LOS ANGELES (December 13, 2022) — L.A. Theatre Works kicks off the New Year with its 17th national tour January 14 through March 10, bringing its signature radio-theater hybrid style to 22 performing arts venues across the U.S. with Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom. Written by Gregg Oppenheimer — son of I Love Lucy creator, producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the show — Lucy Loves Desi is the hilarious true story behind the beloved TV comedy.
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 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 co-authored with his father. 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 Lucille Ball’s surprise pregnancy (and maternity leave) in the show’s second season.
The cast includes Ellis Greer (L.A. Theatre Works recordings of Die Mommie Die, Jefferson’s Garden, The Goodbye Girl) as Lucille Ball; Bill Mendieta (Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy Live On Stage in Los Angeles, Chicago and the 1st national tour) as Desi Arnaz; Laila Ayad (Charlotte Reid on Scandal) as Vivan Vance; and Tom Virtue (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Even Stevens) as William Frawley. Ozzie Rodriguez plays CBS executive Harry Ackerman, and Gerard Marzilli portrays show creator Jess Oppenheimer. Appearing on video are Paul Culos, Desirée Mee Jung and Matthew Floyd Miller. The director 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.
Gregg Oppenheimer is the producer of the award-winning I Love Lucy DVD series for CBS. He has been interviewed about I Love Lucy on the CBS News, CNN, E! Entertainment Television, Entertainment Tonight, A&E’s Biography, MSNBC, Granada Television (in the U.K.), NHK (in Japan), The History Channel, and The Learning Channel, among others.
L.A. Theatre Works’ national touring program brings audiences at venues across the country the experience of a “live-in-performance” radio drama. Since 2005, L.A. Theatre Works has visited over 300 civic, performing arts and university venues with productions ranging from Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop to L.A. Theatre Works-commissioned docu-dramas The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial and Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers. L.A. Theatre Works toured China with Top Secret, playing to sold out houses of Chinese professionals and students; two years later, the production was invited back to perform at Beijng’s prestigious National Centre for the Performing Arts as well as the Tianjin Grand Theater and major venues in Hangzhou, Suzhou, Chongqing and Fuling.
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. The company’s public radio series, featuring stage plays performed by America’s top actors augmented by interviews with the artists and others, can be heard on public radio stations across the U.S daily in China and worldwide on the Radio Beijing Network; can be downloaded as a podcast via iTunes and NPR One; and can be streamed on demand at www.latw.org.
For more information about the tour, visit www.latw.org.
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