‘Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom’ coming to Reynolds Performance Hall

CONWAY—The University of Central Arkansas Reynolds Performance Hall welcomes L.A. Theatre Works with the hilarious, true story behind one of America’s most famous television comedies, “Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom,” Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

Lucille Ball is regarded as having paved the way for many of today’s top comediennes while forcing Hollywood to begin dealing with the rising power and influence of women artists both on-screen and behind the scenes. Her iconic series, “I Love Lucy,” remains one of the most groundbreaking and influential shows in television history.

Ellis Greer and Laila Ayad Photo by Matt Petit
Ellis Greer and Laila Ayad Photo by Matt Petit

Playwright Gregg Oppenheimer—son of “I Love Lucy” creator Jess Oppenheimer—spins the tale of how Ball and Desi Arnaz battled with CBS over the pioneering ideas that changed the face of television. Ball insisted on having Arnaz, her Cuban-born bandleader husband, as her co-star, instead of the All-America leading man preferred by the network. The couple wanted the show filmed in Hollywood, where they planned to raise a family, not broadcast live from New York like other major television programs of the time.

They demanded and won the right to own the show themselves. Their writers incorporated Ball’s real-life pregnancy into the program’s storyline, which was an absolute taboo in 1950s America, resulting in the highest audience share ever recorded. They also 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 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 radio-style show was written for L.A. Theatre Works, which has been the foremost radio theater company in the U.S. for four decades. LATW has delighted audiences with its unique live radio theater-style performances in over 300 small towns and major cities, including New York, Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Chicago, Beijing and Shanghai.

The cast includes Laila Ayad, Ellis Greer, Ozzie Rodriguez, Bill Mendieta, Gerard Marzilli and Tom Virtue who is also known for his roles on the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, “Green Book,” as well as “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” ABC Family’s “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Even Stevens.”

Ozzie Rodriguez Ellis Greer Bill Mendieta Photo by Matt Petit
Ozzie Rodriguez Ellis Greer Bill Mendieta Photo by Matt Petit

UCA Executive Director of Public Performances Amanda Horton, said “radio-style theater is a creative treat for the audience and, mixed with the amazing story of Lucy and Desi, will make this show a must-see in our season. Get ready to learn about the unstoppable career of Lucille Ball and the personal history of her relationship with Desi.”

Tickets are $30-$40 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at the Reynolds Box Office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., online at uca.edu/reynolds or by calling UCA Ticket Central at (501) 450-3265 or toll-free at (866) 810-0012.

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