You are cordially invited to ‘It Shoulda Been You’

March 6, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Village Theatre hosts a wedding in original musical

John Patrick Lowrie (George), Timothy Wilson (Brian) and Jayne Muirhead (Georgette) star as the Howard family in ‘It Shoulda Been You.’ By Erinn Hale/Village Theatre

The tension at the Steinberg-Howard wedding is as tight as a bridesmaid’s dress in “It Shoulda Been You” — the latest offering at Village Theatre.

The original musical about in-laws-to-be struggling to get along opens at the downtown Issaquah theater March 14.

The plot appears straightforward upon initial inspection. Rebecca Steinberg (Mara Solar) is about to marry Brian Howard (Tim Wilson) — even if the union between a Jew and a gentile causes heartburn for the Steinberg and Howard clans.

Just before the couple is due to step down the aisle in showy ceremony, Rebecca’s old boyfriend Marty Kaufman (Josh Carter) crashes the wedding and asks for another chance. Then, the plot turns more tangled.

“The first thing that I was told was, ‘There’s a really great twist,’” Wilson said.

Kat Ramsburg is sister-of-the-bride Jenny Steinberg, a dynamo wedding planner left to run the show even as the union threatens to come apart.

If you go

‘It Shoulda Been You’

  • Village Theatre — Francis J. Gaudette Theatre
  • 303 Front St. N.
  • March 14 to April 22
  • Show times vary
  • $22 to $62
  • 392-2202 or www.villagetheatre.org

“Jenny is very Type A. ‘We’re going to get this wedding done. I’m going to intervene between my crazy mother and my sister whom I adore — and I’m going to make this work,’” Ramsburg said. “‘It’s going to be lovely and everyone’s going to be happy, no matter what that means for my personal sanity.’ That’s very me.”

The most fearsome attendee at the wedding is not a bridezilla, but a domineering mother of the bride, Judy Steinberg. (Seattle funnywoman Leslie Law, a Village Theatre regular, steps into the matriarch role.)

Jenny, not as svelte as Rebecca, is a frequent foil for Judy, but a lifetime of insults inured Jenny to the slings and arrows.

“Jenny worries more about how other people are feeling than how she’s feeling — even people that are awful to her,” Ramsburg said.

The character bears similarities to the New York City-based actress in the Jenny role.

“Honestly, the first time I read the script I was like, ‘Who’s been watching me?’“ Ramsburg said.

“It Shoulda Been You” last appeared on the Village Theatre stage as a barebones reading during the 2010 Festival of New Musicals.

The setting far from Broadway offers the creators, author-lyricist Brian Hargrove — a television writer and producer — and composer Barbara Anselmi, a chance to refine the musical.

“They’re able to develop the show without the scrutiny of New York,” Ramsburg said. “We’re able to take some risks, throw in some lines that maybe don’t work for a run-through. They’re out and we put in something else for the next run-through.”

Leslie Law, Mara Solar, John Dewar and Kat Ramsburg appear as the Steinberg family. By Erinn Hale/Village Theatre

“It Shoulda Been You” experienced a successful run at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., last year. (Hargrove’s husband, “Frasier” actor David Hyde Pierce, directed the show.)

“Brian is a sitcom man,” Wilson said. “He understands what it means to be quick.”

The scenario — a race to the altar, a last-minute interloper and overbearing parents — offers ample material for the creators and performers. Still, the musical’s sentiment, Ramsburg and Wilson said, remains heartfelt.

“There’s something about the pomp and circumstance of a wedding that’s really beautiful, and about what these families are trying to do for their children,” Wilson said. “They really do want to highlight the fact that they love them.”

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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