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Southern Florida by John Lariviere


An Evening With Lucille Ball
"Thank You For Asking!"

An Evening With Lucille Ball
Suzanne LaRusch
America's love affair with comedienne Lucille Ball is legendary. She was one of the most popular and influential stars in America during her lifetime. She received thirteen Emmy Award nominations and four wins, and TV Guide voted her "The Greatest TV Star of All Time." She appeared on the cover of TV Guide more than any other person (thirty-nine times), including the very first cover in 1953, with her baby son Desi Arnaz, Jr.. She was the recipient of the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1979, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986 and the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1989. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, and named among Time Magazine's "100 Most Important People of the Century." Ball received some awards posthumously, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 6, 1989, and The Women's International Center's Living Legacy Award. "I Love Lucy" was named the Greatest TV Series by Hall of Fame Magazine. She is, and always has been, our favorite redhead.

TYFA LLC & Sunshine Productions present An Evening With Lucille Ball "Thank You For Asking!" written and directed by Lucie Arnaz and Suzanne LaRusch. This sentimental tribute to Lucille Ball is centered on a 1974 celebrity appearance, and question and answer session attended by Ball in the auditorium of a Los Angeles theatre. In the appearance, Ball tells stories of her life, and answers questions taken from the audience. The cleverly composed questions allow her to give snippets of bits from her most famous "I Love Lucy" episodes without them having to be completely costumed and staged. The questions come from pre-recorded voices of unseen audience members, but the Broward Center audience is very much present and engaged throughout.

Actress Suzanne LaRusch bears a remarkable resemblance to Lucille Ball, and has carefully crafted her mannerisms to mirror Lucy, both as we knew her in "I Love Lucy" and in what we know of her everyday life. She gets in all the trademark facial expressions and vocalizations, yet avoids being just an imitator. Those who would attend this show just to hear things like Lucy Ricardo's trademark "waaaaah" cry, and the "eeehhhhwww" sound of Lucy in trouble (called "the spider" sound by her scriptwriters) will not be disappointed, but there is more. Perhaps because the show is co-written by Lucille Ball's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, we are treated to a look at Lucy as a person and not just an entertainer and businesswoman. It is this aspect that sets the show apart from other tribute attempts. It also provides a real opportunity for LaRusch as an actress to not just imitate, but show acting layers. While the audience loved seeing part of the famous "Vitameatavegamin" scene, they also loved seeing a misty-eyed Lucy speak fondly of her ex-husband, Desi Arnaz. Though it is a risk, as it could have come off as hokey, the inclusion of her singing "If He Walked Into My Life" to video pics of Desi, comes off as only tender and sincere. This production of An Evening With Lucille Ball "Thank You For Asking!" is like spending a comfortable evening with an entertaining and admired old friend.

Lucille Ball first landed work as a model in 1929, and later appeared on Broadway. As a contract player for RKO Radio Pictures she appeared in many small movie roles in the 1930s and was labeled the "Queen of the Bs" for her many roles in B-films. Following the close of her radio show "My Favorite Husband," she was pivotal in the creation of the television series "I Love Lucy" which co-starred her famous husband, Cuban bandleader and singer, Desi Arnaz. "I Love Lucy" ended in 1957 after 180 episodes, and was followed by "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour," "The Lucy Show," "Here's Lucy" and "Life With Lucy" in which she also starred. At the time of her death in 1989 she had been married to her second husband Gary Morton for 28 years.

An Evening With Lucille Ball - "Thank You For Asking!" appeared at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through February 20, 2011. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District at 201 SW Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Presentations at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, the Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also contributed by the Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Inc.. The Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment Consortium is a cultural partnership between the Performing Arts Center Authority, the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Florida Grand Opera, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and The Historic Stranahan House Museum. It is supported by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Visitors Bureau. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts houses the Au-Rene Theater, the Amaturo Theatre, and the Abdo New River Room, and has affiliated venues at the Parker Playhouse, the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, the Miramar Cultural Center and the newly opened Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. For any of the offerings of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org. For more information on this tour visit

Cast:
Lucille Ball: Suzanne LaRusch

Crew:
Director: Lucie Arnaz
Scenic/Lighting Design: Robin Downes
Sound Design: Vales Crossley III
Costume Design: Alex Bartlett


See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere



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