'I Love Lucy' play stops at Nashville's TPAC - WKRN News 2

'I Love Lucy' play stops at Nashville's TPAC

Photo courtesy of TPAC Photo courtesy of TPAC
Photo courtesy of TPAC Photo courtesy of TPAC

The memorable show "I Love Lucy" is now a live theater production.

"I Love Lucy Live on Stage" is at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), with all your favorite characters, just as they were more than 50 years ago.

News 2's Heather Jensen sat down for lunch with the stars of the show at Guantanamero, a Cuban restaurant in south Nashville.

A dynamic foursome make up the cast of Lucy (Sienna Irwin) and Ricky Ricardo (Bill Mendieta), and Fred (Kevin Remington) and Ethel Mertz (Joanna Daniels). They've been on a nationwide tour, turning the show into a sensation.

But putting an iconic television show under the bright lights of a theater stage isn't easy.

"None of us takes it lightly," said Daniels, who dons a wig to portray Ethel. "You know, we realize this show has meant so much to so many people over so many years."

"It's both terrifying and it's thrilling, and it's an incredible honor," said Irwin, who plays the beloved redhead Lucy. "All of us want to get it right."

A first glance and quick conversation would suggest the actors were made for their key roles.

"A friend of mine, two years ago, he said to me, 'You know what?' He said, 'You need to be going after the Fred Mertz-type characters.' I swear to God, he did," exclaimed Remington, who now plays the Ricardo's neighbor Fred.

"She even had people before she even knew Lucy people told her that they remind her of her," Mendieta said of his lead actress Irwin.

"Myself," he added, "I had a girlfriend many years ago say, 'You remind me of Ricky.' Oh, okay. What does that mean?"

But looking the part is only part of the role.

"I didn't know Lucy well," admitted Irwin. "I hadn't grown up with a TV and just had not done the work that I should've done, quite frankly."

Not only did the actors have to get to know their characters, they had to get to know the actors that came before them.

"It's called 'I love Lucy.' It's certainly not called 'I love Ethel,'" laughed Daniels.

"I have to admit, and I feel guilty saying this now, but it's just the truth, that I always focused on Lucy. And to me, Ethel is sort of like the set-up guy," she continued. "But now, I realize what a treasure Vivian Vance was and is."

Remington took a tip from his colleagues and watched countless episodes of the sitcom to prepare for his role as Fred.

"Look at the picture without the sound. Listen at the sound without the picture because that way you're only getting so much information at a time," he said. "And it helped so much!"

Mendieta took another approach to study Desi Arnaz and his character of Ricky Ricardo.

"(I) did my research with Cuban heritage, with friends of Cuban descent, we tried to do this role justice," he said.

The work helped each performer be true to their roles, but they had to be true to themselves, too.

"This is not Desi Arnaz. This is not Lucille Ball. This is not Vivian Vance and Bill Frawley," Irwin said. "But after the first few minutes, I think that dissolves for the audiences, and then they're just taking the journey."

The journey continues this weekend. Tickets for "I Love Lucy Live on Stage" are still available through Sunday through the TPAC box office.

For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

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