I Love Lucy ... to Death

In addition to their entertainment value, dinner theatres cater to special events-birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. At our local favorites, the food is usually passable, while the musicals are the draw. To these venues, you can now add another choice: The Broker's hearty menu and the outright silliness of interactive murder mysteries.

I Love Lucy ... to Death (which runs in repertory with The Return of Sherlock Holmes), may not be "Oklahoma" or "The Sound of Music," but it will get you up out of your chair, after that famous shrimp bowl and a generous entrée, into a line dance with Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred, as well as some very suspicious characters, and make you wonder which one killed the wealthy philanthropist, Mrs. Pendalton (Susan Rossman) who was going to help Ricky open his own club.

Susan Rossman as Mrs. Pendalton
Susan Rossman
as Mrs. Pendalton
Rossman's upper-crust entitlement, with faux fur and elevated American dialect, establishes the setting. It helps that in entering the restaurant, we've walked past the lobby of the most ornate, historical bank in Colorado, with a bar in its stunning, grand old vault.

We're used to being served by actors who, moments before, have thrilled us with a sweet rendition of "On the Street Where You Live" or "Till There Was You," but it's a whole different matter when Lucy (Giovanna Leah) and Ethel (Tanya K. Obernyer) come to your table and try to involve you in their shenanigans. We only wish there were more of this as the intrigue progressed.

Giovanna Leah as Lucy
Giovanna Leah as Lucy
In an official Lucy wig, wide-eyed and as effervescent as Lucille Ball, Leah's take on the famous "Vitameatavegamin girl" skit from the TV series is as funny as it was when it first aired in the '50's. Leah also scores with another old Lucy routine, as a campfire girl reciting "Hiawatha."

If it's Ricky you crave, you'll sway to Matthew Osmun's energetic, conga drum-driven version of "Babalu," as if you were watching the act from your table at the Tropicana (sans palm trees). In fact, it's rumors about the Tropicana that drive this plot.

Matthew Osmun as Ricky with a couple of dinner guests
Matthew Osmun as Ricky
with a couple of dinner guests
While at the Manhattan Women's Club Charity Dinner, Fred (Peter A. Stone) tells Ricky that he's learned from the head waiter that the Tropicana is about to close. Fred and Ricky cook up a scheme to raise money. Meanwhile, Lucy shows up, with Ethel in tow, to audition for the role of the new Vitameatavegamin girl with a famous talent scout at the charity event.

Though Stone is not as curmudgeonly as we remember William Frawley's Fred and Obernyer not as sardonic as Vivian Vance's Ethel, they are just as good as insulting each other. Dan Berman is Peter Lorre sinister as Mrs. Pendalton's executive assistant.

Giovanna Leah as Lucy with the feted couple
Giovanna Leah as Lucy
with the fêted couple
Audience members are recruited to fill key roles-such as the talent scout, a couple of dancers, a policeman, and an heiress-and compete for a prize in rendering the most detailed explanation of the crime. One guest, a charming octogenarian, who was celebrating his 60th anniversary with his wife and their family, was moved to sing a bona fide country love song that he wrote for his bride.

There's no telling what kind of 'splainin you'll have to do after hanging out with Lucy.

MO Productions presentation of I Love Lucy ... to Death runs in Saturday, June 26th, July 17th and 31st, playing in repertory with The Return of Sherlock Holmes, which is performed on Saturday, June 5th and 19th, July 10th and 24th. Dinner seated at 6 pm. 303-292-5065 or for menu selection and other information.

Bob Bows


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