The rhythm is gonna get you.
Lucie Arnaz is bringing her show “Latin Roots” to the Miramar Cultural Center Saturday night. The concert is inspired by the music of her Cuban father, the late, great Desi Arnaz.
We talked to Arnaz, whose mother was Lucille Ball, from her home in Palm Springs, California, before the trip:
What can readers expect from the concert?
Back in 2010, my brother [Desi Arnaz Jr.] and I paid tribute to my dad with “Babalu.” We actually played the Arsht Center. It was a showstopper. And I thought if we do this again, I’d like the same cast. [Miami native] Raul Esparza sang, and he was just amazing. But he was this up and coming star at the time. Now he’s a big TV star on ‘Law & Order: SVU’ and never available to travel. My brother, who played percussion, is not fond of travel or airplanes so he was out. So I thought, ‘I’ll make a hybrid version of it myself.’ ‘Latin Roots’ celebrates my father, but I also do new stuff plus standards with a Latin feel to them. It’s really my story and how I got into this business. There’s a lot of video and talking and home movies.
What will be shown in the home movies?
You’ll see me being born into this unique, blended family, and how he brought his incredible sound into our home. When ‘I Love Lucy’ came on, all of America was introduced to his music. So we’ll have outtakes of episodes as well. Some people have only heard him play with his [on screen] band as Ricky Ricardo.
What memories do you have from the set, if any?
I was born six weeks before Mom taped the first show in 1951. I do have some memories, but I am not completely sure if they are from old footage or from me actually being there! They were working a lot and I was home. Kids who have two parents working full time, it’s hard. But I think back about how fashionable they both were. I loved their style. A few years ago I got it into my head that I would really like to have a clothing line from the show. Not anything costumey. But those wonderful skirts she wore and those shirts and jackets and hats of his. Even if you had just the maternity line alone with the cute tops. That look is so back.
Tough question: But do you have a favorite episode?
I get asked that question all the time and it’s impossible to answer [laughs]. There are too many good ones. I know a lot of people say, ‘Oh the best one was...’ but then you remind them of another one. I mean, those writers knew how to set it up. They knew how to make the comedy believable and take the story anywhere. My mother always said, ‘Without those writers, I’d be nothing.’ I think that’s the truth. There were some spectacularly talented people.
It must be an emotional feeling to get up on stage and channel your father.
It is. If I was inspired by someone’s music who I never met, I would feel connected to that person. That someone happens to be my father. So I feel not only connected metaphysically but add to that, I am genetically linked to him. I wish he could see this show. I think he would be thrilled that I was taking a look at what he did and making it special again, but with a contemporary spin.
Your dad fled to Miami from Cuba with his family and attended St. Patrick Catholic High School. Do you have any relatives left in the Sunshine State?
I do! Can’t wait to see them. After the Miramar show, my husband [actor-producer Laurence Luckinbill] and I will go fishing in Islamorada because his birthday is Nov. 21. Then we will spend Thanksgiving with relatives in Naples. Connie Arnaz is my grandfather’s adopted daughter. She’s one of the best people on the planet. She worked in a bank for many years. We’ll get to see all the Cubans. They’re all beautiful people with big eyes and dark hair. And I’m not expecting turkey. Growing up, you didn’t put a bird in the oven for two hours. My dad dug a hole in the backyard and roasted a pig over a spit.
Any other news?
Right before I get to South Florida, I’ll be on the TCM [Turner Classic Movies] cruise doing an entirely different type of show. The day we dock in Orlando, I’ll drive south and switch gears musically on the highway. That should be interesting. I don’t drink coffee, only decaf, but I’ll be ready to go.