It Shoulda Been You, a new musical by Brian Hargrove and Barbara Anselmi, is now playing at the Village Theatre in Issaquah. If you’ve ever been involved in a wedding, you know that despite being labeled as the ostensible â€œhappiest dayâ€ of the couple’s life, weddings can be rife with peril, fighting, and drama. In this case, the bride is Jewish, the groom is Catholic, both of their mothers are forces to be reckoned with, and the scheming behind the big celebration makes you understand why people elope in Las Vegas. Fortunately for the audience, the couple soldiers on and we’re taken along for their hilarious march towards the altar. If you think the plot sounds clichÃ©, that’s exactly what the creators want you to think right before they twist the plot in a way you’d never expect.
It Shoulda Been You first appeared here at the Village Originals 10th Annual Festival of New Musicals in 2010. I couldn’t attend that reading, and I’m glad I missed it because it was so nice to be surprised by the plot twist. Very rarely do both my husband and I say, â€œWow, I didn’t see that coming,â€ but that’s exactly what happened. The show ran last fall at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey where it was directed by Hargrove’s husband, David Hyde Pierce (who played Niles on Frasier). Hargrove has written extensively for television, and just like in TV land, he wraps everything up at the end perhaps a little too neatly to be believable, but such is the nature of sitcoms and musicals.
For the most part, I thought the singing and acting were great. I felt that it took a few numbers before the company got into the swing of things, but once they got to â€˜It Shoulda Been You’ they hit their stride. Leslie Law (Judy Steinberg) gets better and better every time I see her, and this was her best performance yet. She easily could’ve gone over the top in her portrayal of an overbearing Jewish mother, but she made you love her even if you’d never want her to be your mother. Kat Ramsburg was delightful as sister of the bride Jenny Steinberg. Her character is the glue that holds her family, as well as the show, together. The cast also includes Seattle up and comers Diana Huey (Annie Sheps), Joshua Carter (Marty Kaufman) and Aaron Finley (Greg Madison).
It Shoulda Been You plays at the Village Theatre now through April 22, 2012 before moving to the Everett Performing Arts Center where it will run from April 27 through May 20, 2012.