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I Loved Lucy transfers to the Arts Theatre

Sandra Dickinson and Matthew Scott

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FOLLOWING an acclaimed UK premiere at Jermyn Street Theatre in 2016, where it had a second run due to overwhelming public demand, I Loved Lucy is transferring to the Arts Theatre for a strictly limited 7-week season – from Wednesday, July 19 to Saturday, September 2, 2017.

Sandra Dickinson returns to her acclaimed role as Lucille Ball, while Matthew Scott makes his London acting debut as Lee.

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 at the end of her life? Out of the spotlight.

Based on his best selling memoir, Lee Tannen’s funny, bitter-sweet play reveals the real-life Lucy and what it was like being her friend to the end. Most people who have written about Lucy never even met her. They have relied on others to fill in the blanks. Tannen relied solely on Lucy and he paints a rich personal portrait.

Lee Tannen first met Lucille Ball as a child but cemented their close and enduring friendship as an adult. During the last 10 years of Lucy’s life – years mostly spent out of the spotlight, and much of it around a backgammon table – Tannen became her confidante, spending time in her Beverly Hills and Palm Springs homes, travelling with her and entertaining her on his turf in New York City.

Born in Washington DC, Sandra Dickinson found fame in the UK in the 1970s as the star of the Birds Eye beefburger TV adverts. They established her in a succession of American ‘dumb blonde’ roles, and it was many years before she was able to shake that image. She has since enjoyed a prolific career on stage and screen.

Her West End shows include Singin’ In The Rain, A Streetcar Named Desire, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Not About Nightingales (National Theatre/Broadway) and Orpheus Descending (Donmar Warehouse); and her film credits include Steven Spielberg’s 2018 release Ready Player One, Malice In Wonderland, Supergirl and Superman III.

Among her many TV roles she is probably best known as Trillian in the cult sci-fi TV series The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy but she can also be heard voicing various roles in Gumball and Counterfeit Cat and she is the voice of Grandma Tracy in ITV’s Thunderbirds Are Go.

Matthew Scott recently starred as Adam Hochberg in An American in Paris on Broadway. His other Broadway credits include Sondheim On Sondheim, A Catered Affair and the original company of Jersey Boys.

His other theatre credits include The Light In The Piazza (Philadelphia Theatre Company), for which he won the Barrymore Award; Saturday Night (The York Theater Co); Beaches, Company, ACE and Side By Side By Sondheim (all at the Signature Theatre); Chaplin (La Jolla Playhouse); First You Dream: The Music of Kander & Ebb (The Kennedy Center); A Wonderful Life (Goodspeed Opera House); Eden and Unknown Soldier (The O’Neill Theatre Center); Ragtime, My Fair Lady and Carousel (all at Paper Mill Playhouse); West Side Story (The Muny); and Legally Blonde, Swing!, Les Miserables and Sunset Boulevard opposite Liz Callaway (all for the Pittsburgh CLO).

Lee Tannen’s memoir became an instant best seller. In 2010, he adapted it for the stage where it premiered at The Laguna Playhouse. His other work includes a new libretto in 2007 for the stage adaptation of the classic children’s story Dr. Dolittle, starring and directed by nine-time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune. A year earlier, he was a contributing writer for the Drama-Desk-nominated musical The Audience.

In 2003, Tannen was writer and Associate Director for Paparazzi, an original musical for Holland America Line directed by Tommy Tune. In 2001, he wrote and directed All The World’s a Stage, a star-studded benefit for Variety Club at Carnegie Hall starring, among others, Barbara Cook, Nathan Lane and Tommy Tune and hosted by Jane Powell. He has also written special material for Joan Rivers, Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley MacLaine.

I Loved Lucy is directed by Anthony Biggs, Artistic Director of the award-winning Jermyn Street Theatre, whose recent productions include Lillian Hellman’s The Autumn Garden, Eugene O’Neill’s The First Man and Charles Morgan’s The River Line.

Biggs was Associate Director to Trevor Nunn on Jermyn Street Theatre’s production of Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall starring Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, which transferred to the West End and New York. His final production at the venue will be Maxim Gorky’s The Last Ones which opens in June. He joins the new Playground Theatre in West London as Co-Artistic Director in September.

Produced by Gary DiMauro, I Loved Lucy has set and costume design by Gregor Donnelly, lighting by Tim Mascall and sound by Gareth McLeod. Casting director is Jane Deitch.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 020 7836 8463 or visit artstheatrewestend.co.uk/.

Also at the Arts Theatre: Judy!, Ray Rackham’s biographical musical based on the life of Judy Garland (May 16 to June 17) and Samuel Beckett’s existential masterpiece, Waiting For Godot (September 5 to September 23, 2017).