A typical season at the Circle Bar B Dinner Theatre has a certain arc to it. First there’s the opening show that sets the tone for the year, and then come the more family-oriented pieces for the months of July and August. Finally, come September, there’s usually something romantic, and this year it’s Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna’s two-person comedy It Had to Be You. Set in New York City on Christmas Eve, the show mostly takes place in a single location-the East Village apartment of Theda Blau (Tiffany Story), a B-movie actress. It’s there that Theda holds the object of her affections, one Vito Pignoli (Sean O’Shea), producer, locked up and injured, until he comes to his senses and realizes he’s in love with her. While it may sound like a stage version of Stephen King’s Misery, despite the contrivance of the locked room the show has a fundamental sweetness that radiates from the relationship between its authors, Taylor and Bologna, who have acted in it many times and who have been married for years. Last week I spoke with Circle Bar B head honcho Susie Couch about the show and about the kind of feeling she tries to bring to it.
How did you find this one? This was one of the shows that I read when we first started out six years ago, and I liked it for the theater, but the actors whom I brought it to said, “No.” It was cute, it was funny, but they didn’t go for it.
Why did you choose it again now? I thought it was important to end the season with a sweet, funny, kind of soft show that would make a perfect date night. I feel like no matter what kind of relationship you bring with you, when you walk out of this show, you’ll feel good about it.
I also liked the fact that Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna had become so invested in it, although it made it difficult to obtain the rights. Renee Taylor said the best thing about it. She said that she liked doing It Had to Be You because no matter how many times they performed it, in each production she could find a new moment to fall in love with her husband all over again.
Tell me about the cast. Tiffany Story will be amazing as Theda Blau. She was the original actress I proposed this show to six years ago, and she said no then, but she has come around. Sean O’Shea is playing against type. He’s a tall, good-looking Irish American playing an Italian guy named Vito, which is a stretch, but I think it makes the situation more interesting. He’s very likeable, and the two characters are diametrically opposed in so many ways that when she locks him into her room, that’s exciting. Even though she is more physical, I think his character is the toughest. Her role is visual, and his is more verbal. The whole thing takes place in one night, and the show itself is fewer than two hours, including the intermission. It really is the perfect date night, because you don’t know for sure when you leave if they will get together, and it leaves you something to talk about on the ride home.
Who is directing? Bill Egan, who played Felix in The Odd Couple. It’s his first time directing. It is very gratifying to see people step up to directing.
It Had to Be You opens on September 19 and runs through November 1. For reservations and information, call 967-1962 or visit circlebarbtheatre.com.