WASHINGTON TERRACE — The latest theatrical offering from Beverly’s Terrace Plaza Playhouse is “I Do! I Do!”, a two-person musical that follows a couple’s ups and downs over 50 years of marriage.
The only actors in the show, Nick and Jamie Balaich, are fairly certain they can play “married” convincingly enough.
After all, the Clinton couple have been married 12 years in real life, and they have three young children — ages 8, 6 and 4.
In preparing for this role, Nick admits it’s been an asset to be married to his co-star.
“For sure, it helped,” he says. “We would not be able to convincingly play a lot of the material in the show had we not experienced being married.”
“I Do! I Do!” is an intimate and nostalgic musical created by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the two men who gave the world the beloved musical “The Fantasticks.” Based on the Jan de Hartog play “The Fourposter,” the Broadway version of “I Do! I Do!” was created as a star vehicle for theater legends Mary Martin and Robert Preston. When the original production premiered on Broadway in 1966, it earned seven Tony Award nominations.
The story begins on Michael and Agnes’ wedding day, and follows them through newlywed jitters to raising a family, negotiating midlife crises, and settling into old age as soulmates.
This particular family affair of a production goes even deeper than just Nick and Jamie. Carol Balaich, Nick’s mother, directs.
Carol says none of them was familiar with the show when the playhouse approached them about it. She says they’ve since fallen in love with this musical about life and love, seen through the eyes of a married couple “going from the awkwardness of their wedding night to the profound, deep love of old age.”
“There’s something almost magical about putting a show together,” Carol said. “I get a bit emotional. And this has been even more so. … We’ve fallen in love with this show, it’s been a magical experience. It’s like painting a beautiful picture.”
Jamie says one of the intriguing things about doing this show is that her and Nick’s characters age five decades over the course of the musical.
“What’s fun about the show is we have a lot of changes,” Jamie said. “There are four different wigs I wear, and we even have a cool part in the show where we actually put on our old-age makeup, right on stage in front of the audience.”
The show starts just before the turn of the 20th century, and continues into the 1940s.
Although some might consider the show a bit dated, Jamie insists it’s “absolutely relatable.” Her character experiences everything from the challenges of young motherhood to watching her children struggle, figuring her place in the world and learning how to relate to her husband.
“They’re things that all women go through,” Jamie said.
Carol calls the music in “I Do! I Do!” wonderful, although going in she was familiar with only one of the songs, “My Cup Runneth Over.”
“The rest I’d not heard,” Carol said.
And the songs cover a wide range of emotions.
“Some are bright and funny, and some are deeply emotional,” she said.
In addition to the three Balaichs, the production of “I Do! I Do!” also involves pianist Angie Petty (visible during the entire show) and stage manager Austin Glenn.
With such a small cast and crew, the Balaichs, Petty and Glenn haven’t needed to rehearse at the playhouse, which has been especially busy this holiday season with an expanded production of “Scrooge: A Christmas Carol.” And that’s cut down on the need for babysitters for our two stars.
“Most of our rehearsals have been in Jamie’s and my living room,” Nick says.
“We let our kids watch a movie, then send them off to bed while we finish rehearsing,” Jamie adds.
Nick said they’ve already had a number of family members agree to watch their children while he and Jamie perform “I Do! I Do!” And if one of those babysitting jobs falls through, Nick says playhouse director Jacci Florence has offered to fill in.
“Jacci said, ‘I’ll come watch them if you need someone,’” Nick said. “That’s the way it is at Terrace Plaza Playhouse. We’ve done so many shows together, she is family to us.”
Jamie said the musical is the kind of show that makes you think about — and appreciate — the little moments in one’s life. Carol concurs.
“Directing this show, I’ve watched these two characters over and over in their scenes and numbers,” Carol said. “And still I choke up and laugh out loud every single rehearsal. It’s fun, funny and emotional.”