Free Readers Ensemble  

I Love Lucy is back on stage in Chicago, one of the Best Female Comics and her friend Ethel is played by a local Oak Park star-Joanna Daniels.
"A comical adventure in a time machine takes you back to 1952 for the filming of two live shows of  I  Love Lucy.  The show is entertaining and funny, and reminiscent for many of us."  Highly recommended
Suburban Journals of Chicago Inc

review by Ed Vincent

"I Love Lucy" was funny and entertaining in 1952 and it's just as funny now, and in some ways even funnier.  There are commercials between live filming on stage that have singers showcasing Brylcreem, Alka-seltzer, Palmolive soap, and even skin cleaners with radioactive dirt that shows when your clean even the geiger counter can't find the dirt.

There are characters in the audience who are top notched performers from Second City in Chicago.  The show has incredible talent and the crew who are on the stage as often as the performers are also gifted and entertaining.

Sirena Irwin as Lucy Ricardo, has come in from California and does a fantastic job of portraying the look and character of the beloved Lucy from television.  Her husband Ricky Ricardo, played by Bill Mendieta has every nuance from language to style down to a letter.

The Mertz family is spot on,  Fred Mertz, played by Curtis Pettyjohn is great and Oak Park's own Joanna Daniels, as Ethel Mertz is fabulous.  When she is in makeup you would never be able to tell who she is off the stage.  Joanna is young and attractive when not in the Ethel costume.  Her portrayal is excellent and her singing is much better than Lucy's.....

This is a lot of fun whether on your black and white 21 inch Philco television or on a modern flat screen, and you don't have to wait until Monday nights.  Get your tickets, this is great for the whole family, and grab a seat. 

This is performed at a great theater with bargain parking, it's small and intimate and the show is even better if you have a Chevrolet and can jitterbug.

Dorothy Gray cold cream commercial from 1950's Gets off Radioactive Dirt.

I had the pleasure of having coffee the other morning with a wonderful Oak Park mom and actor Joanna Daniels playing the part of Ethel Mertz.  Joanna has been in Oak Park for a little over 5 years now and her two children are in our schools.

Joanna Daniels has been actively in the arts almost from birth, until she was in fourth grade she had been a student of dance.  She studied ballet and modern dance as a youngster and then from forth grade on she began a journey of art and performance around the country.  Her mom was an opera singer, a mezzo soprano.  That may also be the vocal range of Joanna, determined while we spoke with coffee.  Joanna has played a large variety of roles in her repertoire, from musical to dramatic visceral roles.  She loves the broad appeal of the show, from the youngsters to the adults that have seen the show.

Nine kids from her son's school saw the show and had a great time, and they were in third grade. 

 CHICAGO – Dec. 21, 2012 – Broadway In Chicago is thrilled to announce that I Love Lucy® Live on Stage, the brand new hit musical stage show adapted from the longest-running and most beloved television program in history, starring Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel: America’s favorite foursome, is extending by popular demand at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 East Chestnut St.). Tickets for performances Dec. 29, 2012 - March 3, 2013 are on-sale now.

Left to Right: Joanna Daniels (Ethel Mertz) and Sirena Irwin (Lucy Ricardo).
Photo courtesy Justin Barbin.

  Returning to the lead iconic roles are BroadwayWorld Chicago Award Winner (Best Actress in a Touring Production) Sirena Irwin (Spongebob Squarepants; San Francisco’s Love’s Labours Lost) and BroadwayWorld Award Winner Bill Mendieta (Smash; The Hunchback of Notre Dame) as the infamous Ricardo couple. Local Chicagoans Curtis Pettyjohn (Chicago production of Shear Madness; My Fair Lady) and Joanna Daniels (LADCC’s Becky’s New Car) continue to star as neighbors Fred and Ethel Mertz.

 Ashley Braxton (Pinkalicious: The Musical), Lauren Creel (Romeo and Juliet), Gregory Franklin (Divorce! The Musical), Karl Hamilton (The Three Musketeers), George Keating (Off-Broadway’s Schoolhouse Rock Live!), Peter Kevoian (TATC’s Little Shop of Horrors), Ed Kross (Animal Crackers at The Goodman Theatre), Debbie Laumand-Blanc (Drury Theatre’s Oklahoma), Doug Pawlik (Eastland: A New Musical at Lookingglass Theatre Company), Rebecca Prescott (Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical National Tour), Sara Sevigny (Assassins), Holly Stauder (Annie at Paramount Theatre) and Richard Strimer (West Side Story) complete the cast.

Sirena Irwin, Bill Mendieta
Photo by Ed Krieger

Joanna Daniels & Curtis Pettyjohn
Photo by

 Imagine stepping back in time and into the Desilu Playhouse soundstage! It’s 1952 and you are a member of the studio audience awaiting the filming of two hilarious and oh so familiar “I Love Lucy” episodes. A charming host entertains and enlightens you to the behind-the-scenes filming process, the 1950’s hi-fidelity technology, and this brand new thing called ‘television’. The episodes begin and you witness, firsthand, the side-splitting antics of that crazy redhead in the Ricardo’s New York apartment and thrill to the Cuban sounds of “The Ricky Ricardo Orchestra” at the famed Tropicana Nightclub. In between scenes? The Crystaltone Singers perform live advertising jingles of the show’s newest sponsors in perfect 50s style harmony. Can you say ‘Brylcreem’?!

Bill Mendieta
Photo by Hyra George

 The iconic television hit sitcom “I Love Lucy” was most recently honored in September 2012 as 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." I Love Lucy® Live on Stage is produced under license from CBS Consumer Products.
 The Chicago Tribune says I Love Lucy® Live on Stage is “A big variety show for your money! A risk-free evening of music & familiar comedy!” The Chicago Sun-Times exclaims the show is “A sweet 95-minute musical comedy! Those nostalgic for 1950s America will have their internal time clocks rewound!”

I Love Lucy® Live on Stage is produced by Stephen Kahn (Executive Producer), David George (Executive Producer) and Hyra George (Producer), Kim Flagg (Co-Adaptor/Producer), Allan Williams (Executive Producer), Dede Harris (Producer), Sharon Karmazin (Producer), and David Carpenter (Associate Producer). Staged, directed and co-adapted for the stage by Rick Sparks, the creative team also includes Aaron Henderson (Set Designer), Wayne Moore (Musical Supervision, Arrangements and Special Lyrics), Peitor Angell (Original Music Composer), Noah Mitz (Lighting Designer), Shon LeBlanc (Costume Designer), Cricket S. Myers (Sound Designer), Diane Martinous (Hair /Wig Designer), and Alan Bukowiecki (Music Director).


The performance schedule for I Love Lucy® Live on Stage is as follows:
Wednesdays at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 2 & 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 & 6:30 p.m.



Tickets are on-sale now and range from $35–$85. A select number of premium seats are also available. Tickets for groups of 10+ start at $25 and can be purchased by calling 312-977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut St.), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place (845 N. Michigan Ave.), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775‐2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at
 For more information, visit or

Parking at the Drury Lane Water Tower is Convenient
and Better Priced than Public Transportation for Most.

The parking rate for theatre patrons is $7.50 in the Water Tower
Place garage.  Validation passes are available in the box office,
and you can either insert the pass into the machines or present it
to the parking attendants when exiting the garage to receive the discount.
There is 4 hour limit on the discounted parking.

© Oak Park Journal
published by Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc.

Sirena Irwin