Sunday, April 19, 2015

It Shoulda Been You @ The Brooks Atkinsons Theatre

Clichéd characters, phoned-in performances, and less-then-memorable music make It Shoulda Been You a wedding best enjoyed after a few drinks or by simply staying home.

 The musical, by Brian Hargrove and Barbara Anselmi, leads us into the chaotic wedding night of Rebecca (Sierra Boggess) and Brian (David Burtka), all being overseen by Rebecca’s sister, Jenny (Lisa Howard).  Throughout the show we’re introduced to the feuding in-laws-to-be, Rebecca’s parents Judy (Tyne Daly) and Murray (Chip Zein), and Brian’s parents Georgette (Harriet Harris) and George (Michael X. Martin), an always competent and always witty wedding planner, Albert (Edward Hibbert), and an apparent former lover of Rebecca’s, Marty (Josh Grisetti). Also featured in the cast are Anne L. Nathan, Nick Spangler, Montego Glover, and Adam Heller.

 While it has all the individual elements of a typical wedding comedy, including prenuptial, a drunk in-law, an underappreciated sister/bridesmaid, and a love triangle, the musical seems to lack drive, and its big twist, though original in the context of this story, seems odd and somewhat totally out of left field.  It lacks the heart of a solid musical, and when it does cling to serious themes, Shoulda can become fairly preachy.

 It is worth noting that Howard’s performance is stellar, delivering the only character that seems well-balanced between comedy and seriousness. Vocally she’s a standout, and she shines brighter than her material. Boggess and Burtka give decent performances, albeit ones not worth the price of admission. 
Daly, who has star power and a stunning career under her belt, walks through the show as if it’s still a rehearsal, never truly giving it her all.  Harris’ performance is much stronger than her counterpart, giving laughs almost every time she appears on stage.

Paired with Hibbert’s sassy and sharp performance, the two easily are the most consistently enjoyable throughout the show.  Glover’s performance as Anne is noteworthy, as well, as she brings both sweetness and hilarity to the role.  It’s also worth noting that Anna Louizos’ set may give one of the best performances, serving as both a spectacle while still and a versatile space fantastic for telling the story at hand. 

Unfortunately, Shoulda tries to be an original wedding comedy – something new and funny – but the space between its wonderful one-liners tends to leave much to be desired, and its many less-than-brilliant performances make this piece one wish you were at a real wedding, because at least there’s usually an open bar.

Review By: Jacob Hines
Photos By: Joan Marcus

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