News from the Tennessee Valley Diversions

The Alpha Company of Ballet Magnificat! will perform “Deliver Us!” in Athens on Saturday.
Courtesy photo
The Alpha Company of Ballet Magnificat! will perform “Deliver Us!” in Athens on Saturday.

‘Deliver us’ from evil
Escaping Little Ricky, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll and turning to God and dance

By Holly Hollman · 340-2445

Keith Thibodeaux can’t flee from Little Ricky. That’s because under the stage name Richard
Keith, he played Ricky and Lucy Ricardo’s son on “I Love Lucy” for the show’s last four seasons.

There was a time Thibodeaux would have loved to escape the Little Ricky persona.

“But I could never get away from it,” he said.

And there was a time Thibodeaux turned to sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll to forget what Hollywood did to his family.

Thibodeaux said he played Little Ricky when he was between 5 and 9 years old.

“That’s a very different upbringing for a child, being in Hollywood and spending your time with adults and making a living at that age,” he said. “My dad had a lot of entertainment aspirations and lived that through me. It was a lot of pressure.”

The stint as Little Ricky led to Thibodeaux’s parents’ divorce, and his father married a woman he met at one of the studios.

“That Hollywood lifestyle destroyed their marriage, and our family,” Thibodeaux said.

Thibodeaux rebelled and ended up playing with a rock band called David and The Giants.

“I did the whole sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll thing,” he said. “I did a lot of alcohol and drugs, the junk that was prevalent in the late ’60s and early ’70s.”

That sent him into depression, Thibodeaux said.

“I was suicidal,” he said. “I was raised in a church, so I knew about God, but I didn’t know he could save me until I reached the end of my rope and cried out for help.”

Thibodeaux said when he got to the point he was about to lose his mind and his life, he turned to God to rebuild that life. That was in 1974. He influenced his band members to accept God as well, and David and The Giants became a Christian music band.

Since that transformation, Thibodeaux has married and turned to dance. Today, Thibodeaux works not in front of the camera or crowds, but behind the scenes for Ballet Magnificat!, headquartered in Jackson, Miss.

He is the executive director of the company that he formed with his wife, Kathy, a silver medalist in the USA International Ballet Competition.

Thibodeaux said the company’s mission is to introduce audiences to God.

Friendship United Methodist Church is bringing the company to Athens on Saturday to perform “Deliver Us!,” a ballet set to the music of “The Prince of Egypt,” a DreamWorks Pictures film.

“It’s wonderful music, and the kids will recognize it from the movie and love it,” Thibodeaux said.

In addition to expanding his professional aspirations, Thibodeaux’s personal life has evolved. He has forgiven his father, and they now have a good relationship, he said. He also has stopped running from Little Ricky.

“It’s easier to embrace being that character now,” Thibodeaux said. “It’s something I can talk about, and an experience I can rely on to help other performers who are undergoing that pressure. I can look back on it now and say, ‘That was something that was OK.’ ”

If you go: Ballet Magnificat!

The ballet: Deliver Us! set to the music of the film “The Prince of Egypt.”

Performances: Saturday, 7 p.m. at Moran’s on U.S. 31 South in Athens; and Feb. 4 at 9:30 a.m., during Friendship United Methodist Church’s service, Lucas Ferry Road, Athens.

Cost: $7 for Saturday.

Where to buy tickets: The church, Pablo’s on Market in downtown Athens and Bloom Dancewear on Regal Drive in Huntsville.

Ballet classes: The company will offer intermediate and advanced classes at the Community Ballet Association in Huntsville, Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. Cost is $20. To register, call 539-0961.

Book signing: The company’s executive director, Keith Thibodeaux, who played Little Ricky on “I Love Lucy”, will sign his book “Life After Lucy” at Pablo’s on Market on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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