|Chip Zien, Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Michael X. Martin. Photo: Joan Marcus|
By Lauren Yarger
A star-studded ensemble featuring Tyne Daly, Sierra Boggess and Montego Glover takes the stage at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for a new musical directed by David Hyde Pierce . Sounds like is should be a great night at the theater, but It Shoulda Been You isn't as good as it coulda/should been, so we are as dissatisfied at all the misfits who show up for this doomed wedding.
The music and book are by a relatively unknown team: Barbara Anselmi and Brian Hargrove. None of the 19 musical numbers in the 100-minute, no intermission production stood out and I kept thinking the show would work much better as a straight play, which Pierce, with his weath of comedic talent, probably could have shaped into something more.
Rebecca Steinberg (Boggess) is getting married to Brian Howard (David Burtka). Get it. She's Jewish; he's not. Their families aren't happy. Georgette Howard (a very snooty Harriet Harris) and her husband, George, (Michael X. Martin) muster up their courage to mingle with the Steinbergs, but Georgette manages to throw some zingers their way. She wishes her son had been gay so he wouldn't replace her with another woman; George wants his son to have Rebecca sign a pre-nup. Things kind of go downhill fast.
Murray Steinberg (Chip Zien) tries to keep his formidable, insult-throwing wife, Judy (Daly) calm and their daughter, Jenny (Lisa Howard), tries to keep family fireworks off of the program of her sister's big day as she teams with a wedding planner extraordinaire, Albert (a comedic Edward Hibbert), to keep things running smoothly. at the St. George Hotel (designed by Anna Louizos). William Ivey Long provides the costume design.
Complicating matters is the arrival of Rebecca's ex -- also and Jenny's best friend -- Marty Kaufman (Josh Grisetti), who wants to stop the wedding. (And believe me, until his funny arrival, this show is about as fun as being seated at the kids table at a wedding reception.) There are a bunch of other characters thrown in too, like Uncle Morty (Adam Heller), Aunt Sheila (Anne L. Nathan), and the maid of honor and best man, Annie Shepherd (a criminally underused Glover who lit up the stage in Memphis) and Greg Madison (Nick Spangler).
But all is not as it seems and suddenly the real reasons for the wedding are revealed and the families must decide whether they can accept their children's choices and their definition of family, and love them unconditionally.
Lisa Howard gives an affecting performance as the overweight second daughter used to playing second fiddle to her beautiful, preferred sister, who doesn't believe anyone thinks she is beautiful. She doesn't think she deserves a chance at love. The actress received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress and Daly and Grisetti got nods in the Featured Actor categories for both Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Standing out to me, however, are servants played by Heller and Nathan who steal the comedy in scenes with very minor parts.
It Shoulda Been You, which received an Outer Critics Circle nomination for Best Musical as well as nominations for book, score and direction, plays at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 West 47th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $59 - $132: http://www.itshouldabeenyou.com.
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