March 08, 2009

Lucie Arnaz Performs at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona, PA

From my hometown newspaper, The Altoona Mirror Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball performed at the Mishler Theatre for an annual arts gala benefit.

On the eve of its biggest fundraiser, the Mishler Theatre found a supporter in Lucie Arnaz.

Arnaz, daughter of the legendary Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, performed Saturday night at the theater in downtown Altoona, Pennsylvania as part of the Blair County Arts Foundation's annual gala event, "A Night for the Mishler Theatre."

"I don't do a lot of benefits, and I don't think we've ever done a benefit for a theater like this," Arnaz said after the show. "You just don't find places like this. ... It really and truly is a jewel box, and to think it was almost razed a few years ago to put in a parking lot is just unconscionable. So few places like this exist."

The performance was organized in part by Dr. John Anastasi of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery of Altoona. Anastasi met Arnaz through his playwrighting ventures, and the two became friends.

"We see each other occasionally, and we brought her husband, actor/writer Laurence Luckinbill, to have a heart catheterization in Altoona," Anastasi said.

"BCAF executive director, Kate Shaffer said they needed someone to perform for the fundraiser, and I'd seen her show in New York, so I said, 'How about Lucie Arnaz?'"

Arnaz performed a variety of songs, including the title number "They're Playing Our Song" and "Just a Housewife" from the musical "Working."

She sang a compilation of "I Still Believe in Love" and "Always" in front of a clip show of photos from throughout her life, with her parents at her wedding, her parents with her children and several shots of her with Luckinbill.

"When you think of the lyrics to the song ... sometimes things happen, and other things happen on top of that, and the cycle goes on," Arnaz said. "When you have your doubts, it's good to look back and see what baggage you're carrying."

The performance followed a dinner at the Discovery Center in Altoona, where the Blair County Arts Foundation honored the 2009 Angel of the Arts, Ellen Lambert of Duncansville. Lambert received the award in honor of her work with BCAF's "Sparkle School of the Arts," a theater program for children.

Lambert's niece, Sparkle alumna Anna Jubala, 17, presented her with the award.

"It's a wonderful, unbelievable feeling to be thanked for doing something I just love doing," Lambert said.

Economic woes didn't deter the annual event, which is in its fifth year. Shaffer said numbers were up from last year. She estimated 150 people attended the dinner and 325 saw Arnaz's performance, although she wouldn't have exact figures until later this week.

"It's been a wonderful, delightful evening," Shaffer said. "It surpassed all my expectations. You can just tell Lucie Arnaz loves to perform. She's as sweet as she is talented."

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