It’s a family affair at Off Broadstreet
Even though his father is John Driscoll, a music teacher, playwright and owner of Off Broadstreet Theatre, Darin Driscoll never thought he would be a performer until his mid-20s.
Instead of working from a stage, the younger Driscoll chose the track and was a professional motocross racer (ranked No. 51 in the state) from 1983 to 1992 until breaking his neck in a career-ending accident. Driscoll then tried joining pop-oriented rock ‘n’ roll bands.
“I was looking for something to do. My friends were messing around in bands; I ended up taking a band to the Battle of the Bands in Visalia – we got fourth place out of 20,” Driscoll recalled.
Relocating to Nevada County a few years later, Driscoll was soon asked by his father to work on lights and sound at Off Broadstreet Theatre.
“When I moved here, I never thought I’d be on a stage. It never entered my mind. When he recruited me for sound, I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to blow it for my dad,” admitted Driscoll, who after four performances within a two-week period quickly became comfortable.
Driscoll was so relaxed working behind the scenes, in fact, that he hopped onto the stage one night after a show.
“I grabbed an actor’s guitar and started singing some little song I was writing, and my dad’s eyes lit up,” Driscoll reminisced. “I had just moved from Visalia and my dad had no idea about my singing. After that, he put me on stage and it felt good. I guess I got blessed a little with some ability to sing.”
Since 1997, he has acted annually in Off Broadstreet Theatre productions. Driscoll returns for his fourth time as Randy, a survivor who always sees the brighter picture, in “Beyond Karaoke,” which begins an eight-week run Friday at the Nevada City theater.
“I never wanted to be an actor. My first love was running the sound,” Driscoll stressed. “Most performers seek it out, but performing sought me out. Messing with rock ‘n’ roll bands is one thing; when you’re acting, it’s a different discipline than just playing guitar and singing in a rock band.”
Driscoll, whose development as an actor would become heavily influenced by his father, immediately learned that their relationship – inside the theater, at least – would change drastically. No longer would his father “sit back and laugh” as John Driscoll had done in the living room when his son was in grade school putting on little family plays.
Through Off Broadstreet Theatre, Driscoll found that life on stage had no room for family familiarity.
“We’ve butted heads a few times creatively because of protocol. I’d be talking to him like fathers and sons do,” Driscoll laughed. “He’d say, ‘no dude, you’re an actor, I’m a director, you have to behave like the other actors. Take direction without talking back.’ That doesn’t happen so much now. I’ve learned the protocols and the way things work.”
Driscoll has only kind words about working with his father and his father’s wife, Jan Kopp, who co-owns the theater.
His father is just as thrilled with their professional relationship, in which he treats his son the same as the other actors.
“It’s a lot easier than it was in the beginning. Darin takes direction very well. He also creates an energy on the stage that is truly remarkable – fire, excitement, enthusiasm. He also brings a lot of heart to the stage,” said the elder Driscoll, possessing no knowledge of his son’s reference about Kopp doing the same.
The younger Driscoll moved last week to California State University at Chico to finish his organizational communication (interpersonal business communication) degree. Although he sometimes freelances on sound design for the drama department there, Driscoll wasn’t compelled to enroll in the department.
“I get my studies here. Chico doesn’t have musical comedy, they have the old discipline, which I’m not into it. I like rock ‘n’ roll,” he laughed.
During his time in Chico, Driscoll won’t distance himself from Nevada City; he’ll work at the local theater on weekends.
He’ll also visit Nevada City when the new Nevada County band, Big Picture, has gigs. The pop rock ‘n’ roll band includes Driscoll and his stepbrother Robby Kopp (“it’s been my dream to play together since we used to air band when we were 11 years old,” Driscoll added). Big Picture debuts Sept. 22 at Cooper’s.
Driscoll plans on returning to Nevada City after he graduates.
“This is my home; this is where I want to be. I traveled all over the country during my motocross years, and I learned how special this place is,” Driscoll pointed out. “My dad will do Off Broadstreet Theatre until he can’t do this anymore. I’ll always be there for him.”
In “Beyond Karaoke,” employees of a failing airport bar in the desert begin karaoke nights to attract customers. Lacking the equipment and resources to compete with an existing karaoke bar, the workers stage a karaoke show in which they become the Mojave Airband, playing selections from rock ‘n’ roll, Broadway, disco, to country.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: “Beyond Karaoke”
WHEN: 8:15 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26.
WHERE: Off Broadstreet Theatre, 305 Commercial St., Nevada City
ADMISSION: $20 Fridays, $22 Saturdays and $18 Sunday. Due to limited seating, advance reservations recommended.
INFORMATION: 265-8686 or e-mail reservation requests to firstname.lastname@example.org
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