In a recent article it was revealed that Lucie Arnaz asked her famous mother, Lucille Ball, to fire her if she received backlash for nepotism when she costarred on Here’s Lucy. Not only was she not fired as she was able to show here comedic timing on that show but she was hired many times after that on Broadway, TV and in films.
The ever popular I Love Lucy had many episodes devoted to a plot where Lucy tried to get into her husband’s show, but TV Lucy sadly had no musical talent; the same is happily not true about real life Lucie.
Reprising a show that she did at 54 Below in July 1999, Lucie Arnaz: I Got the Job! Songs from My Musical Past makes a triumphant return to that venue July 19 to the 22nd. Accompanied by her long time musical director, Ron Abel, she delivers songs and stories with comedy and heart.
Beginning the evening with There’s No Business Like Show Business that she sings offstage in a darkened house, she and Abel meld it into a nice medley with A Lot of Livin’ to Do as she walks on stage.
Of course, Ms Arnaz grew up in a talented family and she reminisces about her time on Here’s Lucy where musical numbers were a regular plot device. Singing with Carol Burnett, Wayne Newton, Frankie Avalon and dancing the Charleston with Ginger Rogers was a masterclass in musical training and Ms Arnaz learned well.
Right out of the gate, after Here’s Lucy, she was in the national tour of Seesaw and from that show she sang Poor Everybody Else, ending the song with “Poor everybody else except me,” on a long note that showed her audience that her voice was in fine form. She reminisced about playing Annie in Annie Get Your Gun in the 8,000 seat open air arena at Jones Beach Long Island where neither rain, nor wind nor soaking wet astroturf stays those actors from performing their musical numbers. She chose You Cant Get a Man with a Gun and I Got lost in His Arms to sing from that show; two very different tunes that showcased her fun side and romantic melodies.
While cast in Annie Get Your Gun, she was called to audition for a brand new musical, They’re Playing Our Song, a part which she finally got after six weeks of waiting for the phone call and hearing that Bette, Cher and Barbara (no last names required) were already in the running. She cherishes that experience and her memories of composer Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the music to Carol Bayer Sager’s words. Lucie had never created a role before, and it was the first time she realized her voice was her instrument and the sound of the instrument was hers. Marvin wrote the music to fit her keys and taught her so much about performing and about life. She said Marvin “helped her find the humor in life,” which considering she was born into a comedy team that became legend is a wonderful tribute. Singing the title song of the show set a lively tone; but, when she sang I Still Believe in Love her voice sounded as strong and sweet as it did on the original cast recording from 1979.
Twenty years later she was asked by Sir Cameron Macintosh to create a role in his production of The Witches of Eastwick. Hers was the first phone number he dialed to star in this musical based on the film with four lead characters, and she had the first choice of which role she wanted to play. A cast of three sexy witches and a demon she jokingly chose the devil; but, in reality she played Alexandria; however, at 54 Below she does sing the devil’s song, Who’s the Man? with wit, style and a touch of testosterone.
Although I am sure she prefers to create her own characters in new musicals, she said she had a great time singing music and lyrics of David Yazbek with a stellar cast as a replacement in Dirty Rotten Scandals and here she croons What’s a Woman to Do?
In addition to her singing and acting Ms Arnaz has had her chance to direct a new musical Hazel based on the comic strip and 1960’s TV show. With words and music by her musical director, Mr Ron Abel, whose ability to arrange all the music of the evening and accompany her solo on the piano is beyond compare, Lucie sings a wonderful song from the show, He Just Happened to Me that could become a cabaret standard.
The final song of the evening is from the musical Pippin which Lucie performed in the national tour. At 54 Below she sang No Time at All with her feet firmly on the floor which was totally different from how she sang it on the tour, hanging from a trapeze in the arms of a sturdy young man. Frightening to be sure but “the coolest accomplishment of my career.”
Lucie Arnaz is the consummate performer with a stage presence that lights up the room. Her voice is strong and has great range and her comedic timing is spot as if she were born with it. In this show which continues through July 22, and possibly another return engagement, proves that not only did Lucie get the job but she also gets the job done.
Events For December
Cabaret, Talks and Concerts For December
Tis the season to be entertained. Here are picks:
92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 12/2 – 4: Lyrics & Lyricists In the Key of Life: The Genius of Stevie Wonder. Led by Broadway’s Darius de Haas; 12/5: Recanati-Kaplan Talks Death, Let Me Do My Show: Rachel Bloom in Conversation and 12/14: Sharon Stone and Jerry Saltz Talk About Art.
Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 5:30 Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks and 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; Every Saturday at 7pm Eric Comstock with Sean Smith (Bass) & special guest Barbara Fasano (Voice); 12/11: Karen Mason for her annual Christmas show “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!”; 12/12 – 16 Stacy Kent; 12/18: James Barbour returns to Birdland with his annual Holiday Concert: 12/21 – 25: “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” starring Birdland regulars Klea Blackhurst, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch and 12/28 – 31: Marilyn Maye.
Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. 12/1 – 9: Sutton Foster; 12/12 – 16: Gavin DeGraw and 12/19 – 31: Michael Feinstein.
Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St. 12/5: Christmas with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith; 12/6: Dee Dee Bridgewater with Sean Jones and the NYO Jazz All-Star Big Band; 12/13: Michael Feinstein and Jean-Yves Thibaudet and 12/22 – 23: The New York Pops The Best Christmas of All with Norm Lewis
Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St.
Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street.
Alec Wilder Tribute
Devotees of the Great American Songbook have another reason to love living in New York. Yes, cabaret shows of the music of Porter, Rodgers et al abound here of course, but once a year there is a loving tribute to a lesser-known composer. Some of us may have even passed him on West 44th Street as he was leaving his home in the Algonquin Hotel. This dapper gentleman was Alec Wilder, a musician who wrote classical pieces as well as songs. He wrote words and music, and sometimes let the likes of Marshall Barer, Fran Landesman and even Johnny Mercer supply lyrics. There are a few of these titans who can have one foot in Tin Pan Alley and the other in Carnegie Hall. George Gershwin comes to mind immediately; Cole Porter dabbled but reverted to what he could do best. Wilder also wrote American Popular Song/The Great Innovators 1900-1950, a volume respected by those who love the music of that era.
The Friends of Alec Wilder presented their 38th Annual Concert for an audience of seriously devoted fans of Wilder on November 11th at 54 Below.
Mark Walter, FOAW Board Member and son of noted pianist and friend of Wilder’s Cy Walter, introduced Honorary Host Steve Ross, who along with the ever-amiable Eric Comstock interspersed the music with anecdotes about Wilder which rounded out the portrait of the gentleman being painted so effectively by the rest of the cast.
The afternoon began with one of Wilder’s chamber works, presented lovingly by The Wilderness Trio. Eric Comstock followed, summing up Wilder by saying that his music never went out of vogue because it was never in vogue. Wilder is like that secret ingredient that once having tasted it, one yearns for it thereafter. Eric sang four songs, infusing I’ll Wait with his ineffable sass and charm before being joined by his wife, the spunky and gorgeous Barbara Fasano, who made each lyric come to life in ways Wilder would have appreciated. Sean Smith provided bass support, and the trio which has been a mainstay at Birdland illuminated Wilder’s deep emotional grasp of the human condition.
The Wildebeest Wind Quintet followed with the Alice in Wonderland Suite, which showed Wilder at his classically playful best. Jason Henderson carried some of that lightheartedness into his segment, with two songs that benefited from his natural charm and enthusiasm. Steve Ross made the heart ache a bit with his rendition of the plaintive Did You Ever Cross Over to Sneden’s? before closing the program by encouraging everyone to join him in singing I’ll Be Around, perhaps the best known of Wilder’s songs.
If your interest in Alec Wilder has been piqued, visit alecwildermusicandlife.com.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sutton Foster and Kelli O’Hara With The NY Pops
One Night Only: An Evening with Sutton Foster and Kelli O’Hara with the NY Pops is happening Friday 8pm, at Carnegie Hall. This unique program by NY Pops conductor Steven Reineke, pays homage to earlier icons of stage and screen who teamed up for memorable concerts.
T2C Talks To Paul Iacono, Unfiltered
Actor and writer Paul Iacono, best known for the films Fame, G.B.F., and MTV’s “The Hard Times Of RJ Berger,” returns to The Green Room 42 in “Paul Iacono, Unfiltered,” His bawdy evening of excess and exposé happens tonight Friday, November 17 at 9:30 PM. T2C had a chance to talk to this 3 decade seasoned performer.
Paul Iacono, is best known for his portrayal of the title character on MTV’s “The Hard Times of RJ Berger.” Paul was first featured on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” at age eight, after she discovered his unique talents for impersonating Frank Sinatra and Ethel Merman Favorite stage credits include Mercury Fur (The New Group), Bridget Everett’s Rock Bottom (Joe’s Pub), Noël Coward’s Sail Away with Elaine Stritch (Carnegie Hall), John Guare’s Landscape of the Body with Lili Taylor and Sherie Rene Scott (Signature Theater), and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs with Donna Lynne Champlin and Michele Pawk (Transport Group). Favorite film credits include MGM’s remake of Fame, Drew Barrymore’s Animal, Darren Stein’s G.B.F., Extracurricular Activities, and Dating My Mother with Kathy Najimy. Iacono’s play Prince/Elizabeth premiered at The Teatro LATEA Theater co-starring Sofia Black D’Elia and Peter Vack, and The Last Great Dame (loosely inspired by his relationship with Elaine Stritch) at Jane Friedman’s HOWL! Happening Gallery. His cabaret “Where’s the Fucking Kid?” premiered at 54 Below, with “Psychedelic Hedonism” following at Joe’s Pub (New York Magazine “Critic’s Pick”), and “Psychedelic Playhouse” at The Green Room 42.
Join Paul for a surreal vaudevillian celebration through the highs, lows, and misadventures from his past five years out of the spotlight. Directed by Eric Gilliland and written by Iacono, Paul weaves insanely personal and wildly hilarious moments from Hollywood to 42nd Street and beyond, accompanied onstage by music director Drew Wutke, with music consulting and arrangements by Peter Saxe.
Paul Iacono, Unfiltered on Friday, November 17 at 9:30 PM at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street, on the 4th Floor of Yotel).
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