Post image for Cabaret Review: LUCIE ARNAZ: I GOT THE JOB! SONGS FROM MY MUSICAL PAST (Tour)

by Lawrence Lucero on May 30, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


It has been said that the greatest art in the world is the art of storytelling and Lucie Arnaz is masterful at it. In her career of forty-five plus years in musical theater, Arnaz has amassed an impressive array of anecdotes and songs which she shared with effusive charm in her touring cabaret I Got the Job! Songs From My Musical Past at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center.

Entering through the darkened audience seated at tables, she made a sleek arrival on the stage in an orange blouse with sparkly buttons and her shock of white hair. Her opening “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from the 1978 Jones Beach run of Annie Get Your Gun, together with her mentions of playing opposite Harve Presnell and receiving a telegram from Irving Berlin showed the love and enthusiasm she has for “the biz”. Her second number, a playful rendition of “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” from Bye Bye Birdie revealed the brightly forward-placed resonance in her voice, healthy for a singer of any age.

I loved when she talked about her years in an all-girls Catholic high school where she first started doing musicals playing the “loose girls” like Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, and that Heidi Fleiss was also a one-time student there, joking that she did Call Me Madam. Arnaz presents herself in a very casual and comfortable manner with her audience, as if we were sitting around in her living room. It is with this quality that she sang “Out of My Dreams” from Oklahoma!, “Poor Everybody Else” from Seesaw, and an especially tender “Lost in His Arms”, the latter of which was in a lovely arrangement by her terrific musical director Ron Abel whose piano accompaniments enhanced the evening.

While there were a couple of not-so-good song choices — “Who’s the Man” from the mish-mashed West End production of  The Witches of Eastwick and “What Was a Woman to Do” from  the less-than-charming Dirty Rotten Scoundrels — I was all ears when she talked about working with Marvin Hamlisch on They’re Playing Our Song, the sweetly fun 1979 musical written with Neil Simon and Carole Bayer Sager based on Hamlisch and Sager’s real-life relationship which ran on Broadway for 1082 performances. She said she auditioned, heard nothing for months, and Got the Job! She went on to say that in rehearsal, Hamlisch was thinking of lowering a song for her and when she expressed an eagerness to sing it as he’d written it, he generously explained regarding the process of creating art, “You’ve got to respect the instrument that you’re given.” She followed up with an incredibly heartfelt “I Still Believe in Love” with all the strength, hope, and longing that are in the melody and lyrics.

This actor loves lyrics and sure can give them their due. My favorite highlight was her recollections of playing Grandma Berthe in the most recent circus-themed Broadway revival of Pippin. The role was originated by Granny Clampett on the Beverly Hillbillies, Irene Ryan. Arnaz spoke of having to trust the process and her partner while learning the incredibly athletic acrobatic trapeze routine that went with the song “No Time at All.” This brave and new accomplishment at age 61 coupled with being a grandmother made this her best, and most lived-in number, once again making the most of her song and its lyrics: “Oh, it’s time to start livin’. Time to take a little from this world we’re given. Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall in just no time at all.”

Brava, Lucie!

cover photo by Michael Childers

Lucie Arnaz
I Got the Job! Songs From My Musical Past
reviewed at Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, May 8, 2024
for tickets, call 562.985.7000 or visit Carpenter Arts
tour continues (next up Studio 54 in NYC); for info, visit Lucie Arnaz

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