Say ‘I do’ to Village Theatre’s ‘It Shoulda Been You’
March 20, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Ours is a matchmaker-mad culture.
“The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” canoodle and cavort across the pop culture landscape. Cable TV is garter-deep in dating games and wedding stories.
The musical “It Shoulda Been You” — the raucous wedding-crasher comedy onstage at Village Theatre — is more akin to the MTV chestnut “Next” than “Bridezillas” and other guilty pleasures in the WE TV lineup.
“Next” — for the uninitiated, or audiences spared from circa 2005 reality TV — sent a contestant on a series of a blind dates, and he or she could end the outing abruptly by declaring, “Next!”
“It Shoulda Been You” is not so cruel, but after a jilted ex-boyfriend crashes the nuptials, hopes for a simple coast down the aisle dissipate faster than Champagne bubbles.
Though, truth be told, nothing is simple about the impending union between Rebecca Steinberg and Brian Howard, in large part due to the lovebirds’ overbearing mothers. Rebecca’s spinster-in-training sister Jenny is assigned to referee.
Then, as pre-ceremony jitters and parental nagging reach a zenith, Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend Marty Kaufman slips, uninvited but not unwelcome, into the wedding venue.
Even if the setup sounds similar to innumerable Katherine Heigl romantic comedies, do not dismiss “It Shoulda Been You” outright. The musical abandons the clichés and brushes aside the fusty jokes about interfaith pairings as the opening act — aha! — springs a surprise on the audience.
The creators, author-lyricist Brian Hargrove and composer Barbara Anselmi, crafted a sparkling comedy set to a droll score. The musical unfolds at a pace similar to a sitcom, a much-appreciated trait imported from Hargrove’s stints as a TV producer and scribe.
“It Shoulda Been You” celebrates stereotypes — domineering mother, omniscient wedding planner, pretty-but-plump sister — so the challenge for the cast is to add originality to familiar characters.
Mara Solar and Tim Wilson offer a charming, deer-in-the-headlights naïveté as the bride and groom.
The composer, Anselmi, came upon the idea of creating a musical about the figures at a wedding aside from the couple at the altar, so attendants and guests dominate the plot.
If you go
‘It Shoulda Been You’
John Dewar, as father of the bride Murray, and Joshua Carter, as Marty, add a levelheadedness the other characters lack.
The actress Angie Louise pulls double duty in memorable roles as a tart-tongued waitress and a booze-infused relative.
Leslie Law, a Village Theatre regular, is mother of the bride Judy, a lioness in a polyester dress. Behind the Long Island accent and laser-beam glares is tenderness, a characteristic Law deploys at strategic moments.
Jayne Muirhead plays mother of the groom Georgette as dry as the martinis the character guzzles. The beauty salon showdown between Georgette and Judy in the opening act elevates the backhanded compliment to a bona fide art form.
(The costume designer, Melanie Burgess, merits recognition for outfitting Muirhead in a Pepto-Bismol pink fascinator worthy of a royal wedding.)
Kat Ramsburg is triumphant as always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride Jenny. The character is a loyal daughter, Yale-educated and as organized as The Container Store, but — as Judy announces in scene after scene — more suited for Jenny Craig than Jil Sander.
“I’m so glad one of my daughters could fit into my wedding dress,” Judy coos to Rebecca, a sidelong glance aimed at Jenny, as sharp as a shiv.
Ramsburg leveled the opening-night audience in the hurricane-force “Jenny’s Blues” — a showstopper about a frustrated single gal on the prowl for “a little something something and a little something else on the side.”
Say yes to the dress indeed.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.