The funny foursome of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel will take to the stage this weekend at the Peabody Opera House for a colorful blast from the past in “I Love Lucy Live on Stage.”
Two episodes of “I Love Lucy” are presented as a live show, in the format of a behind-the-scenes event. The audience is taken back to 1952 as members of the Desilu Playhouse perform before a live studio audience, complete with host and singers performing advertising jingles. Commercial breaks are recreated, featuring Speedy Alka-Seltzer and Brylcreem hair styling products.
For Euriamis Losada, who plays Ricky Ricardo, Desi Arnaz’s character, the entire experience is a great deal of fun. The young actor from Miami not only marvels at how many people really, really love Lucille Ball but also how significant the TV show was in the history of broadcasting.
“The comedy is timeless,” he said during a phone call from Portland, Ore. “Desi Arnaz was a trailblazer. He set the precedent in the industry. He established a format that other sitcoms followed. Seventy years later, the show is so fresh and the characters are still relatable.”
The show was the first scripted TV series to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience, and first to use the three-camera shooting format that is currently employed in the industry.
From 1951 to 1957, the show was the most watched in America for four of its six seasons and won five Emmy Awards. The program continues to air in syndication around the world. In 2012, it was named the “Best TV Show of All-Time” by People magazine.
Tackling such a familiar role has its challenges, but he is thrilled and honored to play Ricky Ricardo, Losada said.
“I love the challenge of meeting people’s expectations,” he said. “I try to make him real, more of me, but still give people what they remember and what they loved about him. It’s part of what makes the role fun.”
The landmark aspect is part of it, too. “He (Desi) was running the show. When I step into his shoes, I think of the empire he built around these iconic characters. There is a sense of pride and ownership in that,” he said.
Losada was born in Cuba and moved to the United States with his family when he was 6 years old. He joined the cast of the “Lucy” tour last August. A seasoned stage performer, Losada caught the acting bug in high school and studied theater in college.
He likes performing music during the stage show, too. He sings three songs with the Crystal Tone Singers and also plays the conga drums.
“Lucy” has endured because of its honesty, Losada said.
“It’s real, it’s very believable because of the honesty of the comedy,” he said. “Lucy is so relatable as a real person. You feel what she’s feeling. You sense the love between the characters,” he said.
The zany actics of two classic episodes, “The Benefit” and “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined,” are crowd pleasers, Losada said.
And yes, he says: “Lucy, you have some splainin’ to do.”
The signature phrase is met with thunderous applause. “People roar and clap, and we have to stop the scene.”
Not that he minds at all. “It’s fantastic.”
The audiences, which span generations, really adore the characters, he said. “It has been amazing. At every show, we get a standing ovation. People just love the show. I didn’t realize how many people really love Lucy. They dress up, come in costume.”
He has become close with his partners in the production — Thea Brooks, who is Lucy; Kevin Remington, who plays Fred; and Lori Hammel, who is Ethel.
“We actually love each other very dearly. We have a ritual routine before every performance, get in a circle, and support each other, give each other energy. We get along really well. You find your family on the road,” he said.
Losada said he has never been on the road this long before, and it’s been a fun, learning experience. In the past seven weeks, they have been to 12 cities. “I love to explore the cities.”
The show is 95 minutes without intermission. “I want audiences to sit back, relax and enjoy the show.”