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It Had to Be You!

The San Fernando Valley playhouse's revival of Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna's romantic comedy "It Had to Be You!" is a rickety edifice, held up mainly by the quirky charm of its stars. As playwrights, Taylor and Bologna may know their show best, but their lackadaisical direction doesn't do them any favors.

The San Fernando Valley playhouse’s revival of Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna’s romantic comedy “It Had to Be You!” is a rickety edifice, held up mainly by the quirky charm of its stars. As playwrights, Taylor and Bologna may know their show best, but their lackadaisical direction doesn’t do them any favors. Another director might have tightened and punched things up, assistance this slight confection needs. On top of that, Aaron King’s set looks like something out of a high school production. Although there are amusing moments, and the performers are old pros, this show should be more professional than it is.

Theda Blau (Taylor) is a well-meaning kook, an unsuccessful actress with a second noncareer as an unsuccessful playwright. After a particularly odd audition for a commercial, she meets producer-director Vito Pignoli (Bologna), who is charmed by her offbeat take on life.

Blau quickly decides Pignoli is the man she’s been looking for all her life, and she seduces him. Shortly afterward, she announces they’re going to be a couple, and that he’s going to be her writing partner. Pignoli is alarmed by her bold declarations, and yet, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to leave her apartment.

The story is cast as a romantic fairy tale, yet it’s never believable even within those confines. Clearly Blau is meant to be seen as a lovable eccentric, but she comes off more deranged than delightful.

Even though the play that Blau’s writing is supposed to be bad, the scenes concerning it are neither funny nor interesting. Taylor has enough natural charm as a performer that she mostly makes her difficult role work, but occasionally her line readings falter a bit.

Bologna, on the other hand, invigorates the show with his brash energy and assured comic timing.

It Had to Be You!

El Portal Theater; 351 seats; $45 top

  • Production: A Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities presentation of a play in two acts, written and directed by Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna.
  • Crew: Sets, Aaron King; costumes, Kevin Ackerman; sound, Jon Gottlieb; production stage manager, Gabe Bologna. Opened March 22, 2006; runs through April 2. Reviewed March 25. Running time: <B>2 HOURS.</B>
  • Cast: Theda Blau - Renee Taylor Vito Pignoli - Joe Bologna
  • Music By: