‘I Love Lucy’ Spoof Overcomes Glitches Galore

The crowd at "Trouble at the Tropicabana," an interactive comic murder-mystery dinner show, often cackled during the campy, mega-melodramatic antics that took off where "I Love Lucy" left off.


Adrianne Goff could be a magician.

On a recent Saturday night at the Marin Rod & Gun Club, she yanked several rabbits out of a hat — simultaneously — to successfully produce, direct and star in an interactive comic murder-mystery dinner show aptly titled Trouble at the Tropicabana.

The slight-of-hand was needed because so many things were going south, as if Murphy’s Law had been cloned and re-cloned by a humorless sitcom writer.

Somehow, Goff managed to make the difficulties vanish — including a pre-show party that lingered too long, 30 aggressive wannabe theatergoers who showed up unexpectedly, waitresses who filled tall water glasses from a tiny pitcher that could replenish only two at a time at tables that sat eight, and a computer that conked out and had to be replaced before any essential recorded music could be played.

Goff’s Band-Aids, chewing gun and similar quick-fixes kept a packed house from shouting, “Adrienne, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

Not incidentally, if that reference means nothing to you, you must have missed each and every episode of the classic I Love Lucy series — and each and every one of Ricky’s mangled sentences.

The audience obviously hadn’t missed any. It cackled each time it was expected to during the campy, pun-laden, mistaken-identity, mega-melodramatic antics that took off where the historic and hysteric sitcom left off.

And at least a third of it grinned gleefully while misstepping all around the huge room in a makeshift, voluntary conga line.

None of the deer or elk heads on the walls criticized their dancing.

Goff, who, believe it or don’t, was also responsible for the costumes, was a comic standout as a whiny Lucy, donning a carrot-colored fright wig that intentionally didn’t cover all of her own brunette locks.

She and perfect sidekick Leslie Klor, who inhabited the body of Ethel, were funniest when they dressed in slapdash mustaches and black suits and delivered seamless clowning in the majestic tradition of Mutt and Jeff, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis.

They also were strikingly and stridently amusing in a set piece in which they talked extra fast trying to out-jabber one another.

Another dazzling performance came in the form of Vanessa Vazquez as Cookie, aka the duplicitous siren-vamp Celia B. DeMilo.

The dinner by caterer Stacy Scott that complemented the show was spicy, tasty and, appropriately, Cuban-based.

But not everything hit an “A” level.

The five “Tropicana Girls” would have garnered many more giggles had their simplistic choreography been outrageously klutzy instead of bland.

The often-repetitive script would have evoked a lot more guffaws had its spoofiness not been so faithful to the original and, instead, been translated into more visual, fresh gags.

And, unfortunately, the actors stayed mostly in the front of the audience rather than mingling with it, unlike the last Marin Murder Mysteries production at a smaller venue, San Rafael Joe’s.

The best move of the evening, however, was an ad lib from Wendell H. Wilson, who portrayed Ricky.

When a two-year-old sitting on his dad’s lap at a front table started to cry after a handgun was wielded, he told the boy, “We’re just playing. We’re all gonna have fun.”

Surely, most folks did.

Trouble at the Tropicabana, part of the Marin Murder Mysteries series, will play at the Marin Rod & Gun Club, 2675 E. Francisco Blvd., San Rafael, on various dates through New Year’s Eve. Reservations required. Tickets: $40 to $65, including dinner, tax and tip; $30, show only. Information: www.marinmurdermysteries.com or (415) 306-1202.

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