Those of us a certain age (ok, yes, me) grew up laughing to the antics of American’s favourite comedienne, Lucille Ball. Now the legend is back in a new production, starring Sandra Dickinson, that opens at London’s Jermyn St Theatre next month.
I Loved Lucy is a personal portrait of an iconic comedic entertainer whose public face is all too well known. But what was Lucille Ball really like and how did she choose to live her life…at the end of her life? Out of the spotlight.
Based on his best selling memoir, Lee Tannen’s funny, bitter-sweet play, which gets its UK premiere in a four-week season at Jermyn Street Theatre, reveals the real-life Lucy and what is was like being her friend to the end.
Most people who wrote about Lucy never met her. They relied on others to fill in the blanks. Lee relied solely on Lucy. And he paints a rich, personal, portrait of a legend.
I Loved Lucy stars Sandra Dickinson (A Streetcar Named Desire, Not about Nightingales, Orpheus Descending) as Lucy and Matthew Bunn (The Ladykillers) as Lee. It is directed by Jermyn Street Theatre’s artistic director Anthony Biggs.
Awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Lucille Ball remains one of Hollywood’s best loved stars. With her trademark red hair and goofy persona, she will always be remembered as the crazy, accident-prone, lovable Lucy Ricardo on her groundbreaking 1950s TV sitcom, I Love Lucy, which co-starred her real-life husband Desi Arnaz.
Shown around the world and topping the ratings every year in the US, it is still regarded today as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms in TV history.
When the show ended, Lucy took sole control of the couple’s production company, making her the first woman to run a major TV production studio.
She won four Emmys and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in recognition for her life’s work.
Born in Washington DC, Sandra Dickinson first found fame in the UK as the star of Birds Eye beefburger ads in the early 1970s. They established her in a succession of American ‘dumb blonde’ roles, and it was many years before she was able to shake the image.
She’s had a prolific career on stage and screen, notably as Trillian in the cult sci-fi TV series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. She is currently the voice of Grandma Tracy in CITV’s Thunderbirds Are Go.
Lee Tannen first met Lucille Ball as a child but cemented their close and enduring friendship as an adult.
The last 10 years of Lucy’s life were mostly spent out of the spotlight and around a backgammon table where Lee became Lucy’s confidante, spending time in her Beverly Hills and Palm Springs homes, traveling with her and entertaining her on his turf in New York City.
I Loved Lucy runs at Jermyn Street Theatre from February 2-27.