**** Recommended Once again, Linda J. Wilczynski gives a tour de force performance at the Towle Theater, this time in Sidekicked. In this one-woman show, Wilczynski is Vivian Vance, also known as Ethel Mertz, wise-cracking landlady and sidekick to Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy. This is a play and a performance that are well worth seeing. 4 BIG Spotlights
It’s the day of the final taping of I Love Lucy, and Vance is in her dressing room unloading on her psychiatrist. She needs to make a decision and doesn’t know what she wants to do. Desi Arnaz wants to sign her for a spin-off series starring Ethel and Fred. She’s really She isn’t sure this is a good career move and besides, she absolutely loathes William Frawley. She’s also worried because a few years ago she froze on stage, completely unable to remember her lines and spent five years unable to act.
On the other hand, I Love Lucy has been good for her, but she’s tired of being Ethel. After all, she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for playing Ethel – and then there’s the money. Then there’s all the fighting, glares and icy silences between Lucy and Desi lately. She’s positive they’ll be getting a divorce very soon.
When her name was suggested by the casting director, Lucille Ball didn’t want her on the show – she wanted one of her friends but CBS wouldn’t allow it. Because of that initial reaction, she always thought Lucy didn’t like her.
Vance’s conversation with her shrink is more like stream of consciousness – anything and everything came out of her mouth. Heartbreak, braggadocio, hilarity or nervous breakdown, where will she go?
My reaction is probably the same as everyone who ever watches Sidekicked. I watched I Love Lucy, I laughed at Ethel Mertz, but I definitely didn’t know anything about Vivian Vance.
Sidekicked runs through September 17th at the Towle Theater, 5205 Hohman Avenue, Hammond. Hohman Avenue Is closed for construction, I suggest Calumet Avenue to Fayette Street for easy access to the free parking lot behind the theater (enter through the alley door). Running time is about 90 minutes, no intermission. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $24. FYI (219) 937-8780.