By Devan Strebing
Tickets are on sale now for the national tour of “I LOVE LUCY LIVE ON STAGE,” the brand-new stage show adapted from the most beloved program in television history, coming to the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre.
Kevin Remington, who plays Fred Mertz, is excited to be coming to the Midwest in the next couple of weeks.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there,” he said. “It’s been 30 years since I’ve toured like this, and I’ve always enjoyed traveling in the Midwest. The energy is more relaxed. When you live in a big city like L.A., people are always on edge. I’ve been excited about the Midwest for a while, and excited to get some more cities under my belt.”
Remington is originally from San Diego and now lives in L.A. As a child, he said he loved to go to see theatre, and as he grew older he decided to pursue acting as a career. He has been a theatre actor for more than 30 years now.
“I have a family that said, ‘if you want to do that, do it,’” he said. “I feel very lucky to have that support.”
Remington has done about 130 performances so far while being on tour with “Lucy.” He says the show was a big hit in L.A. and then the producers took it to Chicago where they got a good response, and finally decided to take it on tour.
He joined when the tour cast was being set.
They opened in Atlantic City, and have been to Charlotte, N.C., Buffalo, N.Y., Toronto, Boston, Nashville, and Philadelphia. They’ll be in the Midwest Feb. 11 and will then continue to the west coast.
The production is currently in Nashville, where it’s been for three weeks. When they get to Indy, they will be traveling on Monday, will perform Tuesday through Sunday, and then leave for the next location the following Monday. They perform eight shows a week — one show a night, Tuesday through Saturday, and two on Sunday.
“It’s pretty intense, it requires an immense amount of focus,” Remington said. “It’s really easy for people who aren’t used to touring to feel like it’s a vacation. You have to really say ‘I’m here to do a job.’ That’s my favorite part of touring though. It’s not easy, but the most difficult thing is going into different theaters with different crews. It’s a challenge, but it keeps you on your toes.”
Remington is a member of the Professional Stage Managers Association and is under contract to work with the “I LOVE LUCY” tour until June. After that, they will book actors for the next six months.
“My hope is that I will do this for another two to three years, but I have a feeling it could go longer,” he said. “We have to be ready for anything. It’s so unpredictable in live theatre, you have to be ready.”
Like many actors, Remington has his own way of getting ready for a show.
“For me, when I put the makeup on and I watch the character transform, it helps me,” he said. “I will then say every word I have to say in the entire show, and then I’ll go on.”
Remington also really grew to understand the real Fred Mertz, Bill Frawley.
When Remington first started studying him, he noticed that Frawley had a pinky ring. So he went to the costume people and said it was important, he would touch the ring a lot when he was in the show.
“When the ring came I was excited, even emotional about it,” he said. “When I put it on, there have been a couple of moments in last few months where I couldn’t find it; it’s upsetting to go on without it. I believe that it meant something to him as the actor.”
The iconic hit sitcom “I LOVE LUCY” originally aired on CBS from 1951 to ‘57. That was six seasons and 179 episodes. It’s widely considered to be one of the most popular programs in the history of television. Due in no small part to its relatable characters, sharp comedic writing and Lucille Ball’s signature zany charm, the show continues to endear new audiences with every passing generation.
The program was a technical trailblazer, pioneering the multi-camera shooting technique (still employed by the majority of traditional sitcoms to this day) and the use of 35mm film for the capture of a weekly, 30-minute scripted television program (which made possible the re-airing of episodes at a later date, what we now know as “reruns”).
In September of 2012, “I LOVE LUCY” was named the “Best TV Show Of All Time” and the “Greatest TV Comedy” by People magazine and ABC’s “20/20” special “Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time.”
For the stage show, Sirena Irwin and Bill Mendieta lead the company as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, reprising the roles they created in the original Los Angeles and Chicago productions. Remington and Joanna Daniels play Fred and Ethel Mertz, the Ricardo’s loveable landlords and sidekicks. The cast also includes Sarah Elizabeth Combs, Gregory Franklin, Peter Kevoian, Jayme Lake, Carlos Martin, Tyler Milliron, Denise Moses, Cindy Sciacca, Jeffrey Christopher Todd, Mark Christopher Tracy, Carolynne Warren and Tamara Zook.
“I have a feeling audiences will love the show,” Remington said. “We will transport them back to the ‘50s. Jump on the tickets because many of the shows have sold-out fast. I would hate for anyone to miss it. It’s unique, fun the whole family can go. There are a lot of laughs.”
Ticket prices start at $25 and will be available at the Old National Centre Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster.com, OldNationalCentre.com and by phone at 800-745-3000. Discounted tickets for group orders of 10 or more are available at 1-800-BROADWAY or by sending an e-mail to LucyMuratGroups@broadway.com.