I Loved Lucy is a personal portrait of an iconic comedic entertainer whose public face is all too well known. But what was Lucille Ball really like and how did she choose to live her life…at the end of her life? Out of the spotlight.
Based on his best selling memoir, Lee Tannen’s funny, bitter-sweet play, which gets its UK premiere in a four-week season at Jermyn Street Theatre from Tuesday 2 – Saturday 27 February, reveals the real-life Lucy and what is was like being her friend to the end. Most people who wrote about Lucy never even met her. They relied on others to fill in the blanks. Lee relied solely on Lucy. And he paints a rich personal portrait that can only add to our love of a legend.
I Loved Lucy stars Sandra Dickinson (A Streetcar Named Desire, Not about Nightingales, Orpheus Descending) as Lucy and Matthew Bunn (The Ladykillers) as Lee. It is directed by Jermyn Street Theatre’s Artistic Director Anthony Biggs (The River Line, On Approval, The First Man).
Awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Lucille Ball remains one of Hollywood’s best loved stars. With her trademark red hair and goofy persona, she will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo on her groundbreaking 1950s TV sitcom,I Love Lucy, which co-starred her real-life husband Desi Arnaz and was produced by their own TV company, Desilu Productions. Shown around the world and topping the ratings every year in the US, it is still regarded today as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in TV history. When the show ended, Lucy took sole control of Desilu Productions, making her the first woman to run a major TV production studio. She won four Emmys and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in recognition for her life’s work. On August 6, 2011, which would have been her 100th birthday, Google honored her with an interactive doodle on their homepage featuring classic moments from I Love Lucy.
Born in Washington DC, Sandra Dickinson first found fame in the UK as the star of Birds Eye beefburger ads in the early 1970s. They established her in a succession of American ‘dumb blonde’ roles, and it was many years before she was able to shake that image. She’s had a prolific career on stage and screen, notably as Trillian in the cult sci-fi TV series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. She is currently the voice of Grandma Tracy in CITV’s Thunderbirds Are Go.
Lee Tannen first met Lucille Ball as a child but cemented their close and enduring friendship as an adult. During the last 10 years of Lucy’s life – years mostly spent out of the spotlight and much of it around a backgammon table, where Lee became Lucy’s confidant spending time in her Beverly Hills and Palm Springs homes, traveling with her and entertaining her on his turf in New York City. His memoir became an instant best seller. In 2010, he adapted it for the stage where it premiered at The Laguna Playhouse. Lee’s other work includes a new libretto in 2007 for the stage adaptation of the classic children’s story Dr. Dolittle, starring and directed by nine-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune. A year earlier, Lee was a contributing writer for the Drama-Desk-nominated musical The Audience. In 2003, Lee was writer and Associate Director for Paparazzi, an original musical for Holland America Line directed by Tommy Tune. In 2001, Lee wrote and directed All The World’s a Stage, a star-studded benefit for Variety Club at Carnegie Hall starring, among others, Barbara Cook, Nathan Lane and Tommy Tune and hosted by Jane Powell. Lee has also written special material for Joan Rivers, Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley MacLaine.
Tuesday 2 – Saturday 27 February
Jermyn Street Theatre
Tickets: £22.00 (£18.00 concs)