Thursday, August 31, 2006

Diane Vincent Speaks About Portraying Lucy

It may be hard to see it under her black wig and heavy eye makeup, but Diane Vincent ---- who's playing the faux Chinese landlady Mrs. Meers through Sept. 3 in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at Vista's Moonlight Amphitheatre ---- is a redhead at heart.

The L.A.-based actress is one of only two people in the world licensed by Lucille Ball's estate to portray the flame-haired television comedian. When she's not performing onstage, Vincent has a full-time job at Universal Studios playing Lucille Ball's television alter-ego Lucy Ricardo from CBS's "I Love Lucy," and she performs as Lucy at events all over the country, including the semi-annual Lucy festival in Ball's hometown of Jamestown, N.Y.

Vincent, who moved at age 7 to L.A. from Indianapolis (her father was an actor), said she'd been told over the years that she resembled Ball, but it wasn't until 1995, when she saw an audition notice for Lucy Ricardo impersonators at Universal Studios, that she decided to give the character a try.

After nine months of auditions, she landed the job and she now works as a "strolling entertainer" at the L.A. theme park's Lucille Ball museum.

Vincent said playing Lucy is in her blood, having grown up watching "I Love Lucy" reruns on television and knowing every line and episode by heart.

"I've absorbed the character by osmosis, I've got natural comedic sensibilities and some people say I remind them of Lucy," Vincent said. "I don't really look like her, but I've got the right facial structure, so once you add the wigs, the lips and lashes, it all comes together. I just try to capture the comedy and heart of her."

Vincent said playing Lucy is a pleasure because Ball is such a revered icon.

"People who respond to Lucy and see her in 3-D want to feel the love of the show and try to embrace that. She's so loved and it's an honor and a privilege to play her," she said.

Thanks to cable TV networks such as Nickelodeon and TVLand, the popularity of "I Love Lucy" endures and even seems to be growing, said Vincent, who added that she has no plans to give up the Lucy role.

"It's been a great ride and it's been a good living and I'll do it as long as the face holds up," she joked, adding that as she ages she can play some of Ball's TV and stage characters from later in life. "After I'm done with Lucy Ricardo, then I can be Lucy Carmichael, then Lucy Carter, then 'Mame' Lucy, and then finally 'Stone Pillow' Lucy."

This is an excerpt. Read the full article.