Riggan’s hit musical ‘Could It Be Love?’ returns to Nashville


by Ryan Breegle
A&E Writer

Could It Be Love?, a musical comedy involving such themes as mistaken sexual identity, the romance of young love, and a musical within a musical is coming back to Nashville after a successful string of sold-out shows last fall.

Written and directed by Kaine Riggan, Could It Be Love? is being performed at the Ryman Auditorium Sept. 15 as a fundraiser for the Senior Center for the Arts in Donelson.

“We were very fortunate with the first production,” Riggan says. “Every show sold out, and many people have called and said that they wanted it back, to bring their friends to see it. So the folks at Gaylord Entertainment, who have always been great supporters of local charities, made a donation to make the encore performance possible.”

The musical stars country legend and Grand Old Opry performer Jeannie Seely as an aging community theater actress attempting to put on an all-senior version of Grease. Trouble arises when the actor playing John Travolta’s part is reunited with his childhood love, played by singer-songwriter and actress Helen Cornelius. Riggan says he did not necessarily have Seely and Cornelius in mind when writing Could It Be Love?, but he thinks “anyone who sees the show and knows the two of them would swear I did. Helen plays a devout Christian woman, and Jeannie plays a woman who is more, shall we say, morally diverse.”

Since the debut of Could It Be Love? last fall, Riggan has found notoriety as the author of the monthly episodic situation comedy for the stage, SITCOM, which opened to packed houses and enthusiastic reviews at PLAY Dance Club this past March. Could It Be Love?, while written with different audiences in mind, does contain some homosexual undertones.

“I enjoy writing shows for a specific audience. I think many people write shows for actors and not the audience. I wrote SITCOM for a more open-minded audience while Could It Be Love? was written with more conservative audiences in mind. At the same time, there are some gay-themed laughs to be had. Both Jeannie and Helen’s characters are in love with their childhood sweethearts, but a dim-witted friend, Judy (played by Layne Sasser), overhears a conversation between these two men and mistakenly thinks they are ‘partners.’ It’s kind of like a Chrissy moment on Three’s Company.”

This encore performance of Could It Be Love? is a fundraiser for the building of a new Senior Center for the Arts on Donelson Pike. Riggan has been involved with the center for a while, and he is eager to see the new arts center benefit from his musical. “The director of the Donelson Senior Center, Jane Schnelle, and I came up with the idea to start the nation’s first Arts Center that is run completely by seniors. Hundreds of volunteers make the place happen seven days a week, and anyone who has been there will tell you it is a fun place to be for people of all ages. And thanks to the sponsors, Gaylord and Independence Airlines, every dollar from your ticket purchase will go to this new arts center.”

Both those who have not seen Could It Be Love?, as well as those who did see it last fall, will be in for a treat with this encore performance. “Most of the leads from the original will be back for this one, plus a special guest and a local choir. And you will laugh just as much as you did at SITCOM.”

The one-night-only benefit performance of Could It Be Love? will be held at the Ryman Auditorium on Sept. 15, 2005 . Go to www.coulditbelove.com for more information or call Nashville Stages at (615) 889-4000.