Saturday, August 05, 2006

Official impersonator will attend celebration

Everyone loves Lucy8/5/2006 - Official impersonator will attend celebration

This weekend, Jamestown will celebrate the birthday of our city’s most famous citizen and the city will be full of celebrities, come to join in the celebrations.Among them will be one who will look very familiar. This is because she looks and dresses like Lucy Ricardo, the fictional character who made Lucille Ball a star. Her name is Diane Vincent.Ms. Vincent is a resident of Los Angeles. She is one of only two women in the world who have been officially licensed to imitate the zany redhead. She has been coming to Jamestown celebrations since 1999.We spoke with her by telephone, recently, as she prepared to go on stage at the Hollywood Bowl, for her final performance in The Sound of Music, in which she was performing opposite television actor John Schneider and the immortal Marni Nixon who did the actual singing for three of the finest musical films in history.‘‘I am a singer, dancer and actor in my own right,’’ she laughed when I asked if she wore the red wig under the wimple. ‘‘When I was growing up, people didn’t used to run over and tell me I looked like Lucy.’’Throughout the coming weekend, Diane Vincent will be going from event to event, adding a bit of Lucy to people’s experience. Doing the same will be Rhonda Medina, who imitates Ethel Mertz, Lucy’s perennial partner in mayhem.Among their activities will come Saturday at 3:45 p.m., when they will help to re-create the ‘‘Visitors from Italy’’ episode of I Love Lucy, when Lucy caused chaos in a pizza parlor. You’re invited to be part of the episode, if you’re chosen, based on your advance knowledge of the episode.At 4:30 p.m., they’ll be conducting a public trivia contest, based on the television series and the career of Ms. Ball, also.So how does a singer, dancer and actor who was born after I Love Lucy was no longer being produced, come to be an imitator of a fictional character? She answered, ‘‘I was appearing in a production of the musical Pal Joey, back in the late 1980s. My costume included a red wig, big eyelashes and a big red lipstick mouth. Someone took a photo of the cast and when it was printed, people often commented that it appeared Lucy was in the show.’’Struck by the similarity, not long afterwards, she saw an advertisement for people to audition for the Universal Studios Theme Park as a number of celebrities, including Lucy. She auditioned by standing on a stage and answering a battery of questions in character as Lucy. It took nine months for the studio to make the selection, but she’s been doing Lucy ever since.‘‘I work at the park, 40 hours per week, plus I appear in shows when I can and it’s not infrequent that people in Hollywood want impersonators of various stars to come to parties, openings of new facilities and so on. I do as many as I can,’’ she said.Is there a particular costume that she always wears when portraying Lucy? She said she is gradually acquiring a wardrobe of Lucy costumes. ‘‘At first I just had the blue and white, polka dot dress, which is the one she wore most frequently in the series — in 25 different episodes, in fact,’’ she said. As time goes by, she has worked with a dress maker to watch episodes of the series, identify costumes which the actress wore, and produce them in real life.You might see her in the costume in which Lucy stomped grapes or in which she wrapped chocolates in paper or in quite a few other ensembles. She says this weekend there’s going to be a surprise outfit, which she thinks people will like.One of the problems in creating her growing wardrobe turns out to be color. ‘‘Since the series was filmed in black and white, people made up their minds what color everything was, but different people might have assigned different colors,’’ she said. ‘‘Our best guide has been the paper doll books, for which the authors researched the colors and shades of everything as closely as possible.’’This weekend, our community will be playing host to hundreds of visitors, from all around the world, come to pay tribute to one of our own. Why not get yourself a schedule and drop in to as many activities as you can?

Thanks to Sharon (gidgetgrape) for contributing this news!