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Interview: At Home With Lucie Arnaz

For this famous daughter, these days it's all about Grandmotherhood.

Interview: At Home With Lucie Arnaz

Lucie Arnaz is a star, and she has been a star for a long time. It isn't talent that makes Lucie a star, it's her attitude, her professionalism, her respect for her craft, for her colleagues, and for the industry. Her talent is what makes her a constantly working actor, producer, director, and singer. Being talented and being a star are not mutually exclusive, but they also do not always go hand in hand - in the case of Lucie Arnaz, though, they are that magical combination that makes something special, like chocolate almonds in movie popcorn, beaches, and sunsets, or a pretty face and eyeglasses. Lucie Arnaz is more than her work, more than her art, she is a family woman, devoted to her husband, her children, her grandchildren and the legacy of her parents, making her a woman of substance, a Lady for the ages.

Broadway World Cabaret and this writer, in particular, are honored that Lucie accepted an invitation to do a digital interview with us about her life in quarantine, her various work projects, and exactly what kind of Grandmother she is.

This digital interview is reproduced in its entirety, without edits.

Name: Lucie Arnaz
First Cabaret Show (Lucie Arnaz: "A Tribute To Irving Berlin's 100th Birthday", 1988, Teatro Verde, Sicily ):
Most Recent Cabaret Show: "I Got The Job! Songs From My Musical Past".
Website or Social Media Handles:; Facebook: Official Lucie Arnaz; Twitter: @realluciearnaz, Instagram: luciearnazofficial

Lucie Arnaz! Welcome to Broadway World Cabaret, I am so happy you're chatting with us today! I understand you folks have a full house out in the desert these days - how is life in isolation on the West Coast?

Well, for about three weeks we had our daughter, her hubby, and our one-year-old grandson with us here - all quarantined together. They were both working from home and, due to the virus scares, without childcare. It was a remarkable gift to spend so much quality time watching this child grow and realize what wonderful parents they were. It was also fairly exhausting at our feeble ages! Soon, they will be renting another place here in Palm Springs right around the corner from us and that will be a piece of heaven.

I hear you folks are doing a lot of volunteer work for the hospitals in your area.

Yes, isolation has been quite full. Since I had to postpone all of my upcoming concerts around the country indefinitely, I answered the call to help our local hospitals start to make more personal protective gear. We created the CV Mask Project and have delivered over 30,000 disposable gowns and 10,000 reusable masks to healthcare workers in the Coachella Valley. Makes me very proud. I was researching how to organize Contact Tracers weeks before anyone knew the term and am now networking with my composer and lyricist friends down here to create PSAs to get folks to understand the seriousness of keeping our social distancing going until we smash this bug.

I am finishing organizing over 75 boxes of archives stored in various places in preparation for a feature film and a separate documentary in the works on my folks and compiling my own notes and memories for a memoir. I do all the shopping, cooking and cleaning now, since we now pay our housekeeper not to come(!) And after my husband, Larry Luckinbill, and I finish our daily chores, we settle down to disappear into a variety of escapist entertainments. So far, I have not been bored.

Your current club act, "I Got The Job! Songs From My Musical Past" Is filled with wonderful anecdotes and reminiscences about your life and work - have you considered turning those stories into a memoir or maybe a musical?

I don't think it's a musical, but, yes, as I mentioned above, I am looking at what I might want to write about and how. There are so many subjects and possibilities. Looking through my life's memorabilia, I can see everything from photo books and theatre histories of my life to recipe books or virtual scrapbooks of the important legal documents from my parents' careers. It's a treasure trove.

You take great care with your parents' legacy - what projects lie on the horizon for Lucy and Desi?

As mentioned above, there is a film in the works with Amazon Studios about my folks' relationship written by Aaron Sorkin and it is hopefully going to star Cate Blanchett. But, it has taken so long to get it rolling, we may have lost her interest by now. And, as I said, the remarkable Ron Howard and his Imagine Films are producing a documentary based on Mom and Dad's lives to be released about the same time as the feature. It's going to be a lot of work on my part with the research and all, so I am gearing up to make that task as easy as possible.

Lucie put me in the picture of what kind of Grandmother you are.

Oh boy, the most appreciative and insatiable one you'll ever know. I adore my grandson, JD (Jeffrey Dodge). He is beyond bright, Gerber Baby beautiful and, for just a year old dude, funny as he can be. He has his mother's sense of humor. He really gets the jokes! I adore being with him, singing to him, feeding him, swimming with him, taking long walks around our neighborhood with him and telling him how good he is.

My granddaughter, Eliza Grace, lives in "Way Too Far Away", CT and it was difficult enough to get up there to visit before this pandemic hit. Now, it's truly impossible. So, months have gone by without any real contact. FaceTime just doesn't cut it. I have some beautiful videos and photos though. I am praying there is a change of address a bit farther west in their future.

The recent They're Playing Our Song reunion was a sold-out smash - clearly, the show has a big following. When the theaters are able to reopen, do you think a revival of the show might be in order? Is it time for a Neil Simon love story to be back on Broadway?

Well, that evening was a stand-alone with no agenda but to celebrate that show and what fun we all had doing it 40 years ago. We wanted to mark the milestone and raise a glass to the brilliance of Neil Simon, Marvin Hamlisch, and Carole Bayer Sager's collaboration, to Pat Birch's inspired choreography, Robert Moore's direction, Manny Azenberg's parenting, Larry Blank's musical savvy, Ann Roth's costume design and everyone else who contributed to its remarkable success. Robert Klein and I so loved climbing back into Sonia and Vernon's souls and remembering, even for one night, what great fun they were to inhabit.

I never understood why there was not a first-class, Broadway revival. The thing still works. It's about trying to combine working with someone you love and the challenges that brings. It's about vulnerabilities and fears. And it's still really really funny. It was a blessing to get to do it one last time on Broadway with that hand-picked amazing orchestra.

We are well into June, the month of Gay Pride. Your mother is a legend to all but also a gay icon; and your husband, Laurence Luckinbill, is a big part of gay history, being a cisgender, heterosexual man who had the courage to do The Boys in The Band onstage in1968 and on film in 1970. Yours is a family that has always been an ally to the gay community - I'd love to hear about your thoughts and feelings on that.

I am very proud to be married to Laurence Luckinbill, an actor who never cared what people thought about him, personally, as long as the material mattered. His dear college pal, Mart Crowley, brought that script to him after being told by so many agents that he would never be able to get it cast with any decent actors. Larry loved Mart and has always loved a challenge. He was brilliant and moving and so memorable in that role. Instead of ruining his career, it defined it. When they had the recent revival on Broadway, the director, Joe Mantello came to see Larry for a history of the piece and advice. They worked together as he was developing ideas of how to bring it back to life in today's gay world and, at the red carpet opening night on Broadway, Larry was treated like a real superstar. It made me beam to see that.

My mother had gay friends all her life and we never spoke about their sexuality at our house in any negative way. It just was. I never cared about people's sexuality either, just their hearts. (I cared about it a little in the '70s, during my early dating years, when so may gays were not "out" yet and, having no real "gaydar", fell into several relationships with handsome, funny, talented, creative guys only to find out a tad late that they were not really in it for the same reasons I was. Live and learn.)

You stay so fit - what was your first thought when you found out you would be doing all the aerial work to play Berthe in Pippin?

I was a Tony voter in NY for 15 years and so I saw almost every show that opened during that time and I knew what was required to play Grandma Berthe in the new acrobatic revival of Pippin. Actually I was not in such great physical shape at the time. I had knee problems, I had just moved out to CA and, what with getting settled and all and loving Palm Springs so much that I was kind of just enjoying myself, I had fallen off my work out schedule. I have a wonderful friend, Jon Giswold, who is one of the best trainers in the country and who I would, literally, commute 90 into the city from CT. to work out with three times a week. But, we hadn't been doing that for months with the move and that's when I got the call for the First National Company of Pippin. I asked Barry Weissler, the producer, if I could see the show again first and after I did, they asked me to play with them backstage, testing out how flexible I was and seeing if I had a fear of heights, etc. I was and I didn't and the part fit me like a glove. I only had the same three weeks of rehearsal everyone else had to train, but, Gypsy Snyder and Michael Lamphear made me an acrobat!! I did it!! And playing that part while performing that high wire, dance trapeze act was one of the coolest achievements of my career. I came off that tour with a whole new body....which I would love to find today!

We've all heard about the musical Hazel and are hoping it will be coming into New York or going on tour - do you have any stories you'd like to share about Hazel?

The story to tell about working on HAZEL was my out of the box suggestion that Klea Blackhurst play the lead. The first thing potential producers always ask is, "Who do you have?" meaning which stars have you got signed and my great friends, the very talented composer and songwriter, Ron Abel and Chuck Steffan, (who bought the rights to the property), had been talking to a couple of big theatre "names" about playing the lead, but, so far, none had been interested enough or available. But, when they needed to make a demo of one of the big numbers in the show, I suggested they get Klea to sing on it. Even if she wasn't the "name" who could impress backers, her take on the material would surely knock it out of the park for them.

Well, she so blew everyone away that they stopped talking to any other "names", told their producers they had found their HAZEL and that was that. Then, I guess because I had given them a few script suggestions along the way that they liked, they asked me to direct the first staged reading, which was very flattering and eventually led to my helming the NY 3-week workshop, as well. I brought in Chet Walker to stage that with me and we had some great fun. The show eventually went to Chicago, got another college production tryout, and is still sweeping its way to Broadway. Hopefully, there will be room for it in the near future. It's a charming show.

Lucie, you were so funny on the recent Lucy-themed episode of Will and Grace. Would you like to return to sitcom work in the future?

Thanks for the compliment. That was fun. I am happy with my life right now. I like living in the desert, far from LA. I love spending time with my husband (of 40 years this June 22nd!), helping care for my grandchildren, and traveling the world performing with amazing musicians and interpreting great music. I am not rich, but, I lack for nothing. TV was fun and I still watch a lot of it. But, I am not going to lobby for parts anymore. When jobs of any kind come to me, I have to decide if they're really worth the effort. Some are. Pippin was. Will & Grace was short and sweet and fun. I am available and I love to work. People know how how to find me. Meanwhile, I am trying to just appreciate the abundance in my life.

I am so grateful to you for chatting with me today and for sharing yourself with all of us over the years. You're the greatest!

Photo by Stephen Mosher

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