‘Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom’ coming to Schafer Center

‘Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom’ coming to Schafer Center

This witty, radio stage show tells the behind-the-scenes true story of how pioneering sitcom I Love Lucy changed the face of television forever.

BOONE — The Schaefer Center Presents series, presented by Appalachian State University’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs, is welcoming radio theatre company LA Theatre Works for “Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom” on March 8 at 7 p.m. at Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts.

Playwright Gregg Oppenheimer, son of “I Love Lucy” show creator Jess Oppenheimer, spins this fast-paced, witty tale of Lucy and Desi’s battles with CBS, from who would play Lucy’s husband to whether Lucy could really be seen pregnant on TV. This hilarious, behind-the-scenes true story of TV’s iconic sitcom brings as much heart and humor to the stage as an episode of “I Love Lucy” itself. Experience the life of the trailblazing comedian through the unique storytelling experience of the award-winning LA Theatre Works.

For tickets, visit TheSchaeferCenter.org or call the Box Office at (828) 262-4046. A special discount for residents of Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties is available.

“I Love Lucy” was a pioneering show that changed the face of television forever. For instance, Lucy insisted that Desi, 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' coming to Schafer Center | Theater | wataugademocrat.com

“Lucy Loves Desi” tells all of these stories that brought the classic to life, in the style of a radio stage show. Instead of acting the story out with a large set, microphones line the stage and the actors take on the roles of different characters, using various voices and mannerisms, as well as minimal scenery, costumes, and props. A variety of small instruments are cleverly engaged for different sounds such as a door and a telephone.

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 from Lucy and Desi’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, who served as technical advisor. The crowd-pleasing show, written specifically 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.

Under the leadership of Producing Director Susan Albert Loewenberg, L.A. Theatre Works has been the foremost radio theater company in the United States for four decades. LATW is broadcast weekly in America on public radio stations, streamed online at www.latw.org, and aired internationally on English speaking networks including the BBC and CBC. On the road, LATW has delighted audiences with its unique live radio theater style performances in cities including New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, Beijing and Shanghai. An LATW performance is immediate, spontaneous and features a first-rate cast, live sound effects and a connection to the audience rarely felt in a traditional theater setting.

Tickets are: $20 for adults, $15 for locals (proof of residency in Watauga, Ashe or Avery counties), and $5 for students. Tickets are available at TheSchaeferCenter.org, in person, or (828) 262-4046.

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