Lucie Arnaz: “I Got the Job!”: Songs from My Musical Past

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Lucie Arnaz

“I Got the Job!”: Songs from My Musical Past

Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, Aventura, FL, April 10, 2022

Reviewed by Todd Sussman

Photo: Todd Sussman

Lucie Arnaz is no stranger to spine-tingling high-wire trapeze acts without a safety net. She actually performed such an act eight times a week in 2015 for the touring revival of Pippin—and she inspired awe.

In her new show—which was temporarily sidelined by the pandemic but is now back on the road—she’s working without a net once again. In “I Got the Job!”: Songs from My Musical Past, there is no big orchestra. There are no elaborate sets. There are no back-up singers. It’s just Lucie and her wonderful music director Ron Abel at the piano, plus a career’s worth of compelling stories and songs—and she is still a marvel.

Of course, we all know that talent runs in her DNA. Combining confidence, experience, and that certain je ne sais quoi, she presented her smooth, rich, and mellifluous vocals which are as beautiful and clear as ever. An impressive list of songwriting greats populate her theatrical résumé, including Rogers and Hammerstein, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, Stephen Schwartz, Irving Berlin, Jerry Herman, and the Gershwins, and on this night in Aventura, she did them proud.

Arnaz probably understands the heart of a songwriter more than most singers and actresses, as she portrayed one in the musical They’re Playing Our Song, her Broadway debut in 1979. And what a debut it was! Speaking of greats, the music was by Marvin Hamlisch and the lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager. Their romantic and professional collaboration was the inspiration for that Neil Simon-penned show. After all these years, the standout songs Lucie “owned” back then—including the title song as well as the 11 o’clock ballad, “I Still Believe in Love”—she still owns. Her versions on the original-cast recording remain definitive, and when you hear her sing them live in 2022, it seems as though she has made time stand still.

In an especially rare treat, to convey the lengths Hamlisch and Sager would go through to get the score just right during previews, Lucie unearthed the sheet music and sung an excerpt from an alternate, deleted number entitled “I Still Believe in Lovin’.” For a brief time in 1979, “Love” was out and “Lovin’” was in. Then a hybrid replaced them both, until Marvin and Carole realized they had created gold the first time around, and “I Still Believe in Love” was locked into the show.

As she recounts the artistic adventure behind that song—and virtually every other song in the setlist—Arnaz demonstrates that her storytelling skills are on par with her vocal abilities, and that’s saying something. Whether it’s conquering an audition, forgetting a lyric, soldiering on during a rainstorm, or numerous other scenarios she relives in “I Got the Job!”, she transforms her stories into self-contained cliffhangers to keep us enthralled. To cite a line from “They’re Playing My Song,” “The magic of words is weaving its spell ‘round this room,” whether she’s singing those words or saying them. 

By the time she gets around to singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” it is apparent that the song fits her like a glove, or better yet, the black tights with sparkling stripes she donned on this evening. Lucie is more of a show business thriver than just a survivor (though she is that, too). She has found—and embraced—the humor and the joy in every trial and triumph, and her celebration becomes ours.

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Todd Sussman

Todd Sussman is a graduate of Columbia University, where he studied journalism and film. A longtime entertainment writer, he is the author of the Blockbuster Video books, The Greatest Movies of All Time, Volumes 1 & 2. He began his writing career as the film critic for The Miami News and soon became the editor of Blockbuster Video Magazine. For his work on the magazine, Todd received an Addy Award for Best In-House Publication, one of several Addy honors he holds. The Walt Disney Company commissioned him to write an interview promoting the film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (for which Todd wrote the questions as well as the answers, in character as the beloved Roger Rabbit). He had the privilege of working as the Liner Notes Editor on the following projects for Barbra Streisand: Encore (her 11th Number One album), Release Me 2 (with various collector editions), and her tour program for The Music…The Mem’ries…The Magic! He also edited the liner notes for: A Capitol Christmas - Volumes 1 & 2, Neil Diamond’s Classic Diamonds, Nat King Cole & Friends’ A Sentimental Christmas, and Kristin Chenoweth’s Happiness Is Christmas. Recent cover stories for Cabaret Scenes include Johnny Mathis, Kristin Chenoweth, and Stephen Schwartz.