April 18, 2013

Lucie Arnaz celebrates her musical heritage with ‘Latin Roots’

"People don’t have a clue what I do," said Lucie Arnaz, looking back on her show business career that's spanned more than 45 years. "The whole thing was a challenge. I never had a hit series. I did movies. Now I'm in concerts. I've diversified my career. That's just the way it is."

Having so varied a career that's included stage, screen and television has been a challenge for the daughter of TV royalty, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, all the while balancing marriage and motherhood. But Lucie Desiree Arnaz has always managed to come out on top, whether performing to millions of TV viewers or hundreds of nightclub and concert audiences. Now her latest venture, "Latin Roots," heads to Easton's State Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m., in a celebration of her musical heritage and a tribute to her father.

Arnaz presented "Latin Roots" at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency nightclub in New York City in February. The show evolved from "BABALU: A Celebration of the Latin Music Craze of the 40s and 50s as Seen Through the Music of The Desi Arnaz Orchestra." With a 16-piece band, it opened the 40th season of the famed Lyric and Lyricist Series at the 92nd St. Y in New York City in January 2010, with sold-out performances. The show played in Miami the following summer. "Latin Roots" was released as a CD in 2010, as an eclectic celebration of Lucie Arnaz’s musical heritage. It includes some pop contemporary South-of-the-Border sounds and American standards as Arnaz takes on the fiery classics of her father.

For Easton’s performance, Arnaz said "Latin Roots" is pared down to a four-musician show with piano, bass and drums, and music director Ron Abel. The eclectic Latin American mix will include Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer, alongside tunes by Agustin Lara, Rafael Hernandez and Margarita Lecuona.

In a recent phone interview from Palm Springs, Calif., Arnaz said she and her husband of 32 years, actor/writer Laurence Luckinbill, are in the process of relocating from Connecticut to the West Coast. Together they have three children -- Simon, Joseph and Katharine. She also has two stepsons, Nicholas and Benjamin.

She explained that her Easton performance, which should be "a very entertaining and fun evening," will include not only some of her father's arrangements, but some family stories and videos of her mother, Lucille Desiree Ball, and family. "That's where I got my rhythms, acting from my mom and the joy of music from my dad," she added.

Following Saturday's show, Arnaz will be among the performers at the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame inaugural induction gala on Tuesday at the New World Center in Miami Beach. The event will honor some of the music industry’s most established names and also will introduce the Desi Arnaz Pioneer Award.

Lucie Desiree Arnaz began her long career playing opposite her mother in TV's "The Lucy Show." Her brother, Desi Jr., also appeared on the show. Desi Jr. later created a name for himself as the drummer in the 60s rock band, Dino, Desi & Billy, a favorite for teen magazines. At 15, Lucie was a regular on "Here’s Lucy," and later starred in her own series, "The Lucie Arnaz Show" and "Sons & Daughters."

It was during the 1979 Broadway run of the Neil Simon-Marvin Hamlisch-Carole Bayer Sager-musical, "They’re Playing Our Song," that Arnaz met Luckinbill, who also was performing on Broadway in the Neil Simon hit, "Chapter Two." They married in June 1980, and went on to appear together in such shows and tours including "Educating Rita," "I Do! I Do!"  "They’re Playing Our Song," "Whose Life is it Anyway?" "Social Security," and "The Guardsman." Arnaz also appeared in the film, "The Jazz Singer," with Neil Diamond and Sir Laurence Olivier, and received a Golden Globe nomination.

Arnaz reflected on Hamlisch's untimely death in 2012, calling it "a humongous loss. He was so vibrant, and at the top of his game. He changed the way I do the music. I have a new focus, more to the reality and the humanness." She’ll be performing at the American Cancer Society’s "One Centennial Sensation: A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch" on June 3, at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City.

In recent years, Arnaz and Luckinbill formed ArLuck Entertainment, which produced the Emmy Award-winning documentary, "Lucy & Desi: A Home Movie," and published CD-ROMs "Lucy & Desi: The Scrapbooks, Volume I" and "How to Save Your Family History: A 10-Step Guide by Lucie Arnaz." The company also produced "An Evening with Lucille Ball: Thank You for Asking," a one-woman touring show starring Suzanne LaRusch, co-written and directed by Lucie Arnaz.

In 2001, she and brother Desi Jr. were executive producers of the Emmy-nominated "I Love Lucy 50th Anniversary Special," which aired on CBS. In April 2006, she co-starred with daughter Katharine Desiree Luckinbill in "Sonia Flew," when Katharine was a senior theater major at the University of Miami.

For further info: statetheatre.org 

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