The last time Lucie Arnaz was on stage at 54 Below was for her solo debut four years ago. The show was a hit! She was asked to do it again but life, events and Covid delayed her return to the basement at 54 Below. She's back this summer and better than ever!
Arnaz appears in a summery orange blouse and shimmery leggings. She looks ready to entertain! And entertain, she does. She opens with a lively interpretation of "A Lot of Livin' to Do ." She introduces the show as "a mini-retrospective of her life in the theatre- only the first forty-five years." Arnaz has an extensive history in the theatre world, so it is no wonder that she is a well of stories, anecdotes and even advice. Some of the most notable sections of her show include the moments when she shares these stories. It is delightful to be the fly on the wall privy to the inside scoops of her career.
As the daughter of the icons Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and growing up in Beverly Hills, Lucie Arnaz's upbringing was slightly different. She shared how she fell in love with musicals at an early age. Her parents encouraged her passion and built a theater stage in the garage. Her shows were well attended by family, friends and often celebrities, which included Sammy Davis Jr. Although she was exposed to stardom early on, she created her path in the theatre industry. Her career repertoire contains numerous Broadway performances, television shows, films, director credits and albums.
"I Got the Job!" includes stories and songs from her illustrious career. She includes numbers from Seesaw and Hazel. One of my favorites was her touching rendition of "Loose Ends" from The Witches of Eastwick. When the song ends, she notices "everybody's wiping their face." She flips the mood with another song from the show, the playful "Who's the Man?" The song was written for the character of The Devil, which Arnaz had initially wanted to play but ended up as Alexandra instead. She had fun performing this song, gesturing and showcasing her humor.
Another humourous moment is when she tells the story of when she was on My One and Only playing Edith Herbert. She recalls a moment in one scene where she thought she and her partner nailed it. She said, "it was the best we've ever done!" And then, it was her turn to sing. Her mind went blank and no one could help her get back on track. She doesn't know how she did it but she did it. She humorously says, "and the moral of that story is do not congratulate yourself in the middle of the show." Her humor and charm are equally enchanting as her musical numbers.
The arrangements and musicality were top-notch, with her musical director and pianist, Ron Abel, accompanying her. They complement one another perfectly. She describes Abel as " a full orchestra" and someone who knows her so well that " I can do anything I want on stage and he follows me because he is one the best musical directors, arrangers composers in our business."
The long-awaited return of Lucie Arnaz was well worth the wait! She gave a stellar performance, sharing snippets of her history and musical talent.
Here's hoping her next time back at 54 Below is much sooner than last!
"Lucie Arnaz: I Got the Job! Songs From My Musical Past"
Performed by Lucie Arnaz
Music direction by Ron Abel
July 22, 2023
254 W 54th St. Cellar, NYC 10019
Yani Perez, M.F.A, is a poet, playwright, translator, and educator. Her plays have been presented in various theaters in the United States such as La Mama and Yale University as well as internationally in Bogotá, Colombia. She works at IATI Theater, one of the oldest Latinx theaters in NYC. She is currently working on translations of Latinx artists in hopes of introducing them to English-speaking audiences.