Lucille Ball was very good at playing a hot mess, but the funny lady was always in control. She became the first woman to run a major TV studio, and on top of all of her own memorable performances, we have her to thank for enduring classics like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. But TV execs weren't initially convinced that Americans would love I Love Lucy. More specifically, they weren't sure that audiences were ready for a situation comedy featuring an all-American gal married to a Cuban bandleader. So a trial was proposed: To prove themselves, Lucy and Desi toured the country performing a vaudeville-style version of the proposed show. It was a hit, and the rest is history.
Suzanne LaRusch's one-woman show, What Would Lucy Do?, may not be quite as glamorous or dramatic as a whirlwind tour by an emerging power couple determined to stay together and change the face of TV forever, but the collection of Lucy-inspired bits on display at the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center this weekend will give audiences an opportunity to experience what it might have been like to see the queen of physical comedy do her thing.
LaRusch's Lucy impersonation is eerily accurate in part because the impressionist's mother was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, about 15 miles from Jamestown, where Ball grew up. LaRusch realized there were a number of shared regionalisms. So doinLucy was a little bit like doing an exaggerated version of her own mom.
Ball's children, Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr., have given Larusch their blessing, dubbing her the "Official Lucy Performer," and Lucie Arnaz has partnered with the impressionist to develop performances inspired by her mother's life and career.