Sirena Irwin and Bill Mendieta in Broadway in Tucson’s “I Love Lucy — Live On Stage,” which opens Tuesday at Centennial Hall. The stage play combines two episodes of the TV show and is set up as though being filmed in front of a live audience.

People can get starry-eyed over Lucille Ball. Still.

The comedienne died in 1989, but thanks to cable television, her popular “I Love Lucy” show, which was one of the most-watched shows for four of the six seasons it ran (1951-57), keeps gaining new fans.

Enough that there is now an “I Love Lucy — Live on Stage” show, and it’s headed our way next week.

The stage play combines two episodes of the television show — “The Benefit” and “Lucy Has Her Eyes Examined.” Of course, Ricky Ricardo — Ball’s husband at the time the show ran — and her TV neighbors, Fred and Ethel are in the show. It also includes ’50s-era advertising, music, and is set up as though the shows were being filmed in front of a live audience — which they were.

Sirena Irwin has the task of bringing the well-known, much-loved redhead’s character to life.

She gives us her insight to the actress and the show:

On researching Lucille Ball

“I didn’t have a TV until I was in college, but of course I knew who she was and had seen the show a handful of times. … But there’s so much around about Lucy. I’m always reading a book about ‘I Love Lucy.’ … Actors are detectives; it’s their job to investigate the clues, the hints (about the character).”

On Ball’s crash through the glass ceiling in a prefeminist era

“She said she wasn’t a feminist because she was doing it; she was carving this new path. I believe there were never any boundaries that she couldn’t confront head on. She was strong, focused, driven and smart; she wasn’t about to be put aside just because she was a woman.”

On donning a red wig and becoming Lucy Ricardo

“Bringing this character to life has been such a joy and such an education. There has not been one performance where I thought to myself, ‘oh, this again.’ Every time we come together to talk to the audience, I am always so excited. These characters have generated so much love.”

The essence of Lucille Ball’s Lucy Ricardo

“Joy. I find the character to be so joyful and free and up for anything.”

Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at or 573-4128.