‘Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom’ | February 11-12 | Polsky Theatre | The hilarious, true story behind one of America’s most beloved TV comedies.
Playwright Gregg Oppenheimer, son of “I Love Lucy” creator Jess Oppenheimer, spins this fast-paced, witty tale of Lucy and Desi’s battles with CBS over the pioneering ideas that changed the face of television forever.
For one, Lucy insisted Desi Arnaz, her Cuban-born bandleader husband, be her TV co-star instead of the “All-American” leading man preferred by the network. Additionally, the couple wanted the show filmed in Hollywood, where they planned to raise a family, not broadcast live from New York like other major TV programs of the time. They demanded and won the right to own the show themselves. Their writers incorporated Lucy’s real-life pregnancy into the program’s story line—an absolute taboo in 1950s America—resulting in the highest audience share ever recorded. And they proposed the unheard-of notion of airing “reruns” on the network to accommodate Lucy’s mid-season maternity leave—an experiment that ultimately turned the entire TV industry’s business model on its head.
“Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom” tells all of these stories and more, with as much heart and humor as an episode of “I Love Lucy” itself. This crowd-pleasing show, written for L.A. Theatre Works, played to sold-out houses during its world premiere run at the James Bridges Theater in Los Angeles in 2018.
Gregg Oppenheimer, who co-authored his father’s memoir, “Laughs, Luck…and Lucy,” and produced the award-winning “I Love Lucy” DVD series, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on this classic sitcom. He received valuable input on this project from Lucy and Desi’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, who served as technical advisor.