New York Cool

What's Up For Today?




Written by Frank J. Avella
Photographed by Jowy Romano



Lucie Arnaz

The enchantress. Lucie Arnaz tossed herself quite the birthday bash at Birdland on July 17th. The event proved to be an enthrallingly entertaining extravaganza with Lucie tirelessly performing a two-hour concert. (When was the last time ANY artist did a set that lasted longer than one hour?) And the beauty of the thing was that each minute was sensational!

Jonathan Pryce Enjoys the Show

The delightful evening was peppered with fabulous guest stars, most of Lucie’s family and a star-filled audience--including Jonathan Pryce as well as many of the terrific composer/lyricists of the songs she sublimely sang.

Lucie Arnaz happens to be making her much celebrated return to Broadway costarring in the Tony Award winning musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, after a ridiculously long absence. Her last time onstage was in the 2001 London production of The Witches of Eastwick: The Musical, which I saw and immensely enjoyed! Back then Lucie looked and sounded fantastic so I was excited to experience what she had in store for the friend-filled Birdland audience.

Intro’d by the dynamic Cast Party showman himself, Jim Caruso (if the industry gave out knighthoods, JC would surely be a Lord by now), and backed by a killer-talented band, Lucie took to the stage with the rousing, “Lulu’s Back in Town,” and proceeded to set the bar incredibly high for herself! In impressive voice, exuding sexual energy and looking damn amazing, one had to wonder if she made some pact with Ian McShane’s devil character, while doing Witches, to stay thirty forever!

Lucie Arnaz and Julie Budd

Among the eclectic musical selections, hilights included the standards: “Moonglow” and “Witchcraft’” where Lucie brought a new and invigorating sensuality to the oft-heard chestnuts; “They’re Playing Our Song” from her Broadway debut musical of the same name; the showstopping “Who’s the Man” from Witches of Eastwick--The Musical; a killer “Something’s Gotta Give” arrangement with Billy Stritch as well as a jazzified hot “Walking After Midnight”.

Her between-song-speak wasn’t the typical banal banter we usually get from many celebs. Lucie delved personal, speaking about the influences of her father’s band on her growing up and telling some very funny theatre stories. She incredulously ‘hated performing’ as a child. She lovingly spoke of her husband, actor Lawrence Luckinbill and her two children, who were there, at the bar, to support her. (At the bar, because the show was such a sell-out, her own family couldn’t get seats!!!)

Through it all, Lucie’s marvelous and highly underrated gifts as a comedienne were glaringly obvious. The woman is hilarious, as was quite evident when she introduced one of her own penned song parodies in response to the sexist ditty: “To All the Girls I Loved Before,” but instead of Willie and Julio, her version featured Dolly and Charo. She then sang the duet AS Dolly and Charo. It was a side-splitting bit with a feminist edge.

Valerie Pettiford and Lucie Arnaz

More divine delights followed as we moved into the guest portion of the evening. Comic Julie Budd took to the stage and joined Lucie for a magical rendition of “If He Really Knew Me” from They’re Playing Our Song. The sultry Valerie Pettiford (Fosse) and La Arnaz dazzled the blues out of “Ain’t He Sweet” and then Valerie flexed her vocal muscle on “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” from Showboat.

Lucie Arnaz and Phoebe Snow

Next, grande dame Phoebe Snow (who shares the same birthday as Lucie) near stole the show with her powerhouse “Time After Time". The extraordinary continued as entertainment vet and delicious diva Michelle Lee sexed up the room and then surprised Lucie by dueting with her on “Nobody Does It Like Me” from the musical Seesaw (Michelle was the lead in the original Broadway production, Lucie took the show on the road.) It was a classic musical theatre moment.

Michelle Lee

Proud mama Lucie, then brought her son, Simon, onstage to play the Conga drum while she transformed into a fiery Latina and paid tribute to her dad, Desi on a couple of songs (notably: “El Cumbanchero”). Again, the genre of music changed but the electricity intensified.

Finally, Lucie ended with a gorgeous arrangement of “Hey, Look Me Over” from Wildcat, her mom’s only Broadway musical. She dedicated the moment to her daughter, Kate, a theatre major on the cusp of graduation: “This is me and mom, singing it to you.” It was the perfect ending to a perfect evening.

Happy Birthday!
Lucie Arnaz and Her Daughter Katherine (Kate) Luckinbill

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