September 23, 2013

Stage version of 'I Love Lucy' adds little new to beloved franchise

Not the brilliant character created by Jamestown native Lucille Ball, who charmed her way into millions of Americans' hearts on the '50s television show that bore her name, but the full-color version now creaking across the stage of the 710 Main Theatre. 

That's not to say that Sirena Irwin, who plays the rehydrated version of Lucille Ball's famous character, is not a gifted impersonator. Or that Bill Mendieta, who plays Ricky Ricardo with no shortage of talent or charm, is not the spitting image of Desi Arnaz. 

It's just that this new touring production of "I Love Lucy Live on Stage," which originated in Los Angeles and inaugurated the 710 Main Theatre's first full season on Thursday night, has very little to offer beyond a sort of colorized photocopy of the original. 

The show, adapted from original "I Love Lucy" episodes by Kim Flagg and Rick Sparks, is pleasant enough for those seeking a simple replay of their childhood television viewing experiences, but bound to disappoint anyone looking for a uniquely theatrical experience. 

Aside from a few tossed-in flourishes, the 140-minute, intermissionless production is a faithful reproduction of two "I Love Lucy" episodes: "The Benefit," in which Lucy convinces Desi to perform at a fundraiser; and "Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined," which features a botched jitterbug performance between Lucy and a suave dance instructor. 

The episodes themselves are sterling examples of comic writing, full of wonderfully absurd situations and humor that carries a reassuring vaudevillian ring. In the production's threadbare conceit, theatergoers themselves are cast in the roles of a studio audience for "I Love Lucy," and subject to the harmless, reheated humor of a set manager played by the charming Mark Christopher Tracy. 

Between scenes, we're treated to an increasingly bizarre and unsettling series of product advertisements for Brylcreem and Alka-Seltzer that are loaded with comic potential themselves but end up as misplaced punctuation marks. The same goes for a strange musical medley inserted between episodes that seems to come out of nowhere and serves no discernible purpose. 

Other musicals that consciously exploit the profit potential of baby-boomer nostalgia at least have the decency to throw in some extra value. Take "Jersey Boys," in which we get to peer into the personal lives of Frankie Valli and company while being treated to rousing performances directly aimed at our brains' nostalgia centers. 

Perhaps an even better model for how to do a show like this right is another Los Angeles export, "Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara," which uses Louis Prima and Keely Smith's charming music and comedy act as a lens through which to view their complex relationship. 

But this "Lucy" has none of that insight. It's merely a memory bath that reanimates familiar characters in a way that actually makes the show's pioneering comedy seem more old-fashioned than it actually is. 

Many moments in the original show, thanks largely to Ball's remarkable talents as a comedian and performer, still strike the viewer as surprisingly and even shockingly modern. But this color-by-numbers production, by contrast, seems utterly trapped in its era. 



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September 03, 2013

Graffiti Artist Paints Lucy Mural For Tattoo Shop

Something Beautiful Tattoo & Piercing will soon be showing off its latest artwork, but this time it isn't on someone's skin.

Robbie and Sarah Mills, owners of Something Beautiful recently brought graffiti artist Victoriano "Iano" Rivera to Jamestown to create a mural of Lucille Ball on the side of their shop. Iano, a 22-year-old artist from Colorado, has been practicing graffiti art for roughly six years.

"I picked up my first spray can when I was 16," Rivera said. "I didn't really get serious about it until I was around 19, though."

"We're art people," Mills said. "We love tattoos, we love beautiful things. I have this big blank wall, so I figured I might as well do something with it. I saw a bunch of other people with their murals of Lucy and figured that we could do something, too. I'm really stoked for this to be finished."

The mural is not the first time the Mills family has done something Lucy related at the shop, either. During the Lucy Comedy Fest this year, the Millses ran a special for fans looking to be permanently adorned with images from Ball's eponymous television show.

Rivera said that he first heard of the opportunity when a friend mentioned to him via Facebook that Mills was looking for a graffiti artist for a mural project.

"My friend told me to call, so I did just to see what was up," Rivera said. "I showed Robbie some artwork and he seemed to be really into it, and now I'm here."

According to Mills, the only payment that Rivera requested for the work was his plane ticket to come to Jamestown and the cans of spray paint that he would be using to create the artwork. A piece the size of the mural on the side of the Something Beautiful Tattoo & Piercing generally takes between 12 and 16 hours of work to complete, Rivera told The Post-Journal.

"I usually just work straight through when I start a piece," Rivera said. "I don't like to leave them unfinished for too long."

For more information about Something Beautiful Tattoo & Piercing, located at 1690 Foote Ave. Extension, call 708-6365 or visit them on Facebook. To see more artwork from Victoriano Rivera, visit

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