‘Intimate and funny:’ Off Broadstreet’s romantic comedy ‘It Had to Be You’ continues through October 14
Special to Prospector
What do you get when a real-life couple who own a playhouse present a play written by a real-life couple and cast a real-life couple to play the parts?
In Nevada County, you get the Off Broadstreet rendition of “It Had to Be You” that opened this past weekend and continues to run weekends through October 14.
The two-person play opening took place on the heels of the 33rd anniversary of Jan Kopp and John Driscoll’s launching of the cabaret style theatre that has become a staple in Nevada County, bringing both original and award-winning plays to the area.
“It Had to Be You” is a romantic comedy written by real-life comedy writing duo Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna (Lover and Other Strangers) and stars real-life newlyweds, Micah Cone and Tina Marie Kelley.
“It’s a two-person romantic comedy that was first performed in 1982 on off-Broadway theatre (in New York) by the authors,” Cone said. “It’s a semi-autobiographical telling of how they met, fell in love, and started writing and working together.”
Performing in the play at this time is special, Cone said.
“For practically the whole length of our relationship – we just celebrated our sixth anniversary and got married three weeks ago — Tina and I have been looking for a two-person vehicle for us to trod the boards with and Jon and Jan approaching us to do this play… it’s the sweetest, funniest, most perfect play for the two of us to be doing at this time in our lives and it’s really exciting,” he said.
Directed by Driscoll, “It Had to be You” tells the story of a struggling actress and would-be playwright who believes she has met the man of her dreams – a high powered advertising producer – who is destined to be the love of her life as well as her writing partner. He just doesn’t know it … yet!
Kopp first starred as the lead, Theda Blau, at the now defunct York Street Blues in 1986, with Richard Gross as the advertising producer, Vito Pignoli, and was directed by the late Tim O’Connor for which she won an Elly (the Sacramento region equivalent of a Tony Award). She reprised the role in the early days of Off Broadstreet playing opposite Jack Fitzpatrick. Kopp said this spirit lifting play holds a special place in her heart.
“I love it and it touches my heart,” she said. “It’s hopeful, and it’s funny.”
Playing a couple who fall in love on stage, while living a real-life romance, has made the experience extra special, Kelley said.
“It’s been so much fun,” Kelley said. “We just got married a few weeks ago. We had started rehearsals while planning our wedding and it has just been a blast. We have been wanting to do a two-person play for a long time. To be able to do it, finally, at this time in our lives, is a dream come true.”
Both Cone and Kelley are veteran actors. A sixth generation Nevada County native, Cone most recently starred in the Off Broadstreet’s presentation of “Greater Tuna” and has a lengthy award-winning repertoire of his own. Kelley moved to the area in 2004 and began auditioning once she became aware of the thriving theater community that is Nevada County.
Like all live performance venues, Off Broadstreet was forced to close during the pandemic and has spent the years since building back the business.
“We are slowly coming back, but it is slow,” Kopp said. “It’s really a roller-coaster and we are riding it. We have scaled back. We only seat 70 people now (about a 25% reduction in seating) so people don’t feel crowded. For the audience, it’s really nice.”
The theatre relies on patronage and donations to keep its doors open.
“We are barely hanging on. Our loyal followers have been good to donate and help us out. Thirty-three years ago, everyone said we were crazy and wouldn’t last a year,” Kopp said. “We are hanging on by a string but after 33 years we are not going to slow down!”
About 95% of Off Broadstreet productions are written by Driscoll and Kopp who are known for their fun and funny musical creations. Other shows such as “Angry Housewives”, “Always Patsy Cline”, and their current presentation of “It Had to Be You”, offer a bit of variety from the independent theatre company who are striving to appeal to both the loyal and the new audience member.
Kelley said for those who have not been, it’s not a traditional sit in rows theatre but rather a cabaret setting with table seating, and dessert offerings.
“If you haven’t been to Off Broadstreet yet, it’s good to know it’s a dessert cabaret style theatre,” Kelley said. “You are seated at tables. Beverages are served before the show and beverages and desserts are offered at intermission. You feel very welcomed by the staff here. It’s an intimate experience.”
Which is perfect for this play Kopp said.
“This intimate play goes very well in this theatre,” she said.
“It Had to Be You” continues its run Friday evenings October 7 and 14, Saturday evenings October 1 and 8, and with Sunday matinee performances on October 2 and 9.
Chris Crockett provides pre-show entertainment beginning one hour before showtime for the Friday & Saturday performances. Local American Roots singer/songwriter Jennifer Knapp provides pre-show entertainment for the Sunday matinees.
For further information or for show reservations, call (530) 265-8686 or go to http://www.offbroadstreet.com
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at http://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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