The New York Pops Presents Lucie Arnaz: The New York Pops Underground

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New York Pops Presents Lucie Arnaz

The New York Pops Underground

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, September 25, 2017

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Lucie Arnaz

The captivating Lucie Arnaz, headliner of this New York Pops cabaret fundraiser, boasts a show business career spanning a whopping 50 years. Drawing on that wealth of experience, she poured her talent and energy into creating a whale of a show. Patrons of the event, hosted by Steven Reineke, Music Director of the New York Pops, were treated to a magnificent evening of eclectic music that seamlessly wove together the text of Arnaz’s personal and performing life. She led with a dynamic number made famous in 1967 by The Monkees, “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You” (Neil Diamond), followed by a spirited “Just in Time” (Jule Styne /Betty Comden and Adolph Green). From there it was a delightful stroll down memory lane. Arnaz spoke of her career on Broadway, meeting her “prince,” her husband of 37 years, Laurence Luckinbill, her children (three by Luckinbill and two stepsons), and an eventual and recent move from the New York metropolitan area to Palm Springs, California.

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One of her children, Joe Luckinbill, a composer, musician, and educator, joined her on stage.

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The duo performed his composition, the melodic “The Music in Your Heart,” sung in both English and Spanish. (The number is part of Arnaz’s Latin Roots show.)

Arnaz was literally born to show business, the daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Whether or not she learned the ways of performance at their knees, she has her own innate star quality—great energy and presence.

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She also possesses a fearlessness that allows her to be playful and creative on stage, both in her demeanor and with the music. Her Latin roots make for a rhythmic sense, especially evident on “Blame It on the Bossa Nova” (Barry Mann/ Cynthia Weil) and a swinging rendition of the 1942 jazz novelty standard, “Palm Springs Jump” (Slim Gaillard). As an actress, she can reach deep emotion in her interpretations, as with “Just a Housewife” (Craig Carnelia) and her closer, an affecting “Imagine” (John Lennon).

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Long-time music director and pianist Ron Abel lived up to his name with dynamic accompaniment. Arnaz also sang a beautiful number composed by Abel, with lyrics by Chuck Steffan, “Until Now.” Additional expert musical backup included Jeff Barone on guitar, Tom Hubbard on bass guitar and upright bass, and Dan Weiner on drums.

The annual gala at Feinstein’s/54 Below helps support the PopsEd music education programs: the 5,000-plus New York City students who participate annually in Kids in the Balcony at Carnegie Hall, the PopsEd Lesson-Based Residencies in public schools, and Kids on Stage at the organization’s birthday gala. In addition to silent and audible auctions, and the presentation of the Honoree Award, PopsEd teaching artists Andrea Wood, Matt Davis, Mark Wade, and Scott Still performed several songs, including a rousing audience participation of Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.