ASCAP award winning composers Lior Rosner and Scott Icenogle have had incredible success scoring NBC’s revival of Will and Grace, the hit sitcom and ratings juggernaut that has earned numerous Emmys and critical acclaim.
The revival came to a close this year after three successful seasons, and while the series is known for it’s jazzy piano theme and fills, the final season offered Rosner and Icenogle an opportunity to showcase their orchestral writing with the special I Love Lucy featuring classic sketches from the iconic comedy and that mesmerizing opening theme.
Rosner and Icenogle spoke to Awards Focus about the joys and challenges of scoring the episode, the lost sheet music for the original show, and their favorite sketches which we’ve included in the piece.
Watch the entire Will and Grace episode, “We Love Lucy,” at nbc.com.
Awards Focus: How did this special I Love Lucy themed episode of WILL & GRACE come about?
Scott Icenogle: The idea was to do a love letter to I Love Lucy, which we all love. Will & Grace’s creators cite it as one of the biggest influences for them. The hook of the episode was that Jack, Grace, and Karen all thought they were the “Lucy” of the group, which allowed the writers to put each of them into their own iconic Lucy sketches from the original 1950s show.
Musically, we were able to recreate the iconic theme and come up with new variations. The actors felt a lot of pressure to measure up to the mannerisms and comedic style of Lucille Ball, we felt then same pressure with the music.
AF: What was the biggest hurdle for you guys in terms of composing and producing music for this episode?
Lior Rosner: It was actually quite a task to recreate the I Love Lucy music from scratch. Also, most of the original music charts (sheet music) and manuscripts from the original recordings of the music were lost and were not at our disposal to use or reference.
So, we had to listen to a number of original episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’ and transcribe the music we heard on the show, by ear, and create all new charts for the original theme for I Love Lucy as well as the song, “I Love Lucy,”, which Desi Arnaz sang in one of the classic episodes.
AF: How did you try and replicate the musical style and sound of I LOVE LUCY?
Icenogle:We did a lot of research, studying still images of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra, which performed all of the music as well as the live performances in I Love Lucy episodes. We had to figure out how many players there were in the orchestra and how many specific instruments were featured as well.
The goal was to assemble an orchestra comparable to the Desi Arnaz Orchestra for our Will & Grace recording session. We even tried to locate one of the last living members of The Desi Arnaz Orchestra, but found out the person they had passed away a few years ago.
Icenogle’s favorite sketch:
AF: Tell us about the recording session itself. It must have been very exciting recording the music of this classic show?
Rosner: Once our orchestra was assembled, we had a three hour recording session at the Capitol Records in Hollywood. We actually made history by re-recording the themes and “I Love Lucy” song as accurately as it was recorded back in the 1950s. In addition to those two pieces, we also recorded original bumper music for the scene transitions, which were all original compositions that were written and orchestrated to sound as if they had aired originally on I Love Lucy. It was incredibly fun to work in this style of music with such incredible musicians.
Rosner’s favorite sketch:
AF: Did anyone from the Lucille Ball estate get to hear the music you guys did?
Icenogle: Actually, yes. One of the most incredible moments of validation for our efforts came when Lior and I were sent a personal note from Lucie Arnaz (Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz’s daughter) who heard our music and cried tears of joy. She said, “My father would be so incredibly proud right now.” For us, there wasn’t a better compliment we could have received.