Sarah Drew, Oscar Nuñez Appear as Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz in LA Theatre Works Docu-Comedy

Sarah Drew, Oscar Nuñez Appear as Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz in LA Theatre Works Docu-Comedy

Sarah Drew (Grey's Anatomy) and Oscar Nuñez(The Office) will portray Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the world premiere of I Love Lucy: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom by Gregg Oppenheimer. Five performances will take place July 12 through July 15 at the James Bridges Theater, located on the campus of UCLA, where L.A. Theatre Works will record Oppenheimer's hilarious behind-the-scenes account in front of a live audience for future radio broadcast, digital download and online streaming.

I Love Lucy, with its onscreen pairing of Ball and Arnaz, remains one of the most popular TV shows in history. Who would have thought that to get on the air, they had to battle both a network and a sponsor who thought the show couldn't possibly succeed?

Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator/producer and head writer Jess Oppenheimer, is one of the world's foremost experts on the show.

"This is a comedy about the comedy business," he says. "It's a true story, but sometimes it almost feels like an episode of I Love Lucy itself."

Much of the play is based on Jess Oppenheimer's memoir, "Laughs, Luck... and Lucy," which Gregg co-authored with his father. The audience might be surprised to learn that necessity drove many of the show's famous groundbreaking innovations: the multi-episode story arc, the baby story line, the flashback show and the rerun were all devised to address Lucille Ball's surprise pregnancy (and maternity leave) in the show's second season.

Much of this, though, will have a familiar feel to star Sarah Drew - whose own pregnancy was written into Season 11 of Grey's Anatomy.

Gregg Oppenheimer is the producer of the award-winning I Love Lucy DVD series for CBS. He has been interviewed about I Love Lucy on the CBS News, CNN, E! Entertainment Television, Entertainment Tonight, A&E's Biography, MSNBC, Granada Television (in the U.K.), NHK (in Japan), The History Channel, and The Learning Channel, among others.

Five performances of I Love Lucy: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom take place on Thursday, July 12 at 8 p.m.; Friday, July 13 at 8 p.m.;Saturday, July 14 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, July 15 at 4 p.m. The James Bridges Theater is located in Melnitz Hall on the campus of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, Television at 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (enter UCLA from Hilgard just south of Sunset Blvd. and park in Lot 3 on the lower level). Tickets range from $15 to $60. To purchase tickets, call L.A. Theatre Works at 310-827-0889 or go to www.latw.org.

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