Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Applause! Applause! Review of It Shoulda Been You at the Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of It Shoulda Been You at the Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

It Shoulda Been You
Based on a concept by Barbara Anselmi
Book & Lyrics by Brian Hargrove
Music by Barbara Anselmi
Additional Lyrics by Michael Cooper, Will Randall,
Carla Rose Fisher, Ernie Lijo & Jill Abramovitz
Directed by Ronald Green III
Musical Director: Melissa Coyle
Choreographer: Allison Carella
Set Design: Timothy Golebiewski
Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts
2 East Main Street
Smithtown, New York 11787
Reviewed 3/11/17

It Should Been You premiered at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey on October 4, 2011 closing on November 4, 2011. It eventually made its way to Broadway opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre with previews from March 17, 2015 with an official opening on April 14, 2015. The show closed after 31 previews and 135 regular performances. It is a highly entertaining play with an enjoyable score and a well-written book. Brian Howard, a Christian, is marrying Rebecca Steinberg, a Jew, and their parents couldn't be prouder except for a few reservations given their different religious beliefs. But as it turns out, Brian and Rebecca have more in common than is at first apparent. The web of deceit and chicanery is being aided and abetted by Greg, Brian's Best Man, and Annie, Rebecca's Co-Maid of Honor. They, too, harbor secrets. Clueless and out of the loop are Jenny, Rebecca's sister, and Marty, who was friends with both sisters and was accidentally told about the wedding. After some delays, second-thoughts, and disruptions, the wedding goes on as planned and the first act ends with a pair of unlikely kisses. The second act is far more interesting and humorous than the first. No matter what you think of the first act, don't leave! Every song, joke, and interaction in the second act will capture your attention as the book takes you on a roller-coaster ride that leads to three more wedding ceremonies and the announcement of a pregnancy. But who could the father possibly be?

This production of It Shoulda Been You features an extremely talented cast, live music, and some memorable show tunes. The impressive lead actress in the show is Katie Hoffman, who plays Jenny Steinberg, the bride's sister and Co-Maid of Honor. She has a marvelous voice and is given plenty of opportunities to show it off when singing "I Never Wanted This," "This Day" (with the full company), "Perfect" (with Rebecca & later with Marty), "Who" (with Marty), "Beautiful," and "Jenny's Blues." The Jewish Steinberg Parents, Judy (Emily Nadler) and Murray (Joe Morris) are stronger than the Christian Howard Parents, Georgette (Anne-Marie Finnie) and George (Mark T. Cahill) but all do a fine job. The parents' performance of "That's Family" is quite memorable. Judy also nails "What They Never Tell You." Brian Howard (Joey Mele) has good chemistry with Greg Madison (Bobby Peterson) as does Rebecca Steinberg (Katie Ferretti) with Annie Shepard (Alicia Bagley). Brian and Rebecca are also believable as having been long-time friends. Rebecca raised important issues while singing the lyrics of "A Little Less Than" and the most hilarious number was "Love You Till The Day," a duet sung to the new bride and groom by Greg and Annie. You have to see this number performed to fully appreciate it. Scott Johnson was particularly believable as Marty Kaufman and I was emotionally moved by his rendition of "Whatever." If I was so inclined, I might even have said yes. Mark Decaterina was forgettable and uninspired in the role of Albert, the Wedding Planner. Jodi Saladino was fine as jealous, spiteful, inebriated Aunt Sheila (she also was Mimsy) while Carl Tese was too old to be cast as Walt, the Busboy (he was also Uncle Morty).

Jenny's best line was when she told her mother she thought she saw a rat, "It came out of the closet but I think it went back in." Annie's best line was "I think it's easier to be black than it is to be gay. I never had to tell anyone I was black." Giving grief to his dad, Brian told his father, "Nature or nurture - it's your fault." Albert's best two lines were "It's time for the wedding deception" and "I didn't see that coming!" Murray Steinberg responded to the line "You can't imagine how shocked we were when we found out" by saying "Yes, I think I can" and when someone was hesitating about revealing yet another secret, Georgette Howard said, "Please! That horse has left the barn!" Georgette turns out to be one happy camper when she finds out her son is gay (for reasons I shall leave undisclosed) while Brian's father George is thrilled his son scored a home run for their team. 

It Shoulda Been You is the third show in the 15th season of the Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts. It is a delightful and funny musical I highly recommend you see. "Once you start coming out" to see shows at this theatre, you will be quite impressed with their quality and will find it "hard to stop." Just don't throw up in the Ladies Room and make sure you don't unintentionally reveal any secrets there while Aunt Sheila is having sex with the Busboy in the next stall. Oh, and as a lawyer, I highly recommend you have your future life partner sign that prenuptial agreement. The trajectory of love is quite unpredictable and it is not all wine and roses. 

This production of It Shoulda Been You at The Smithtown Center For The Performing Arts runs through April 15, 2017. Tickets cost $35.00 for adults, $32.00 for seniors, and $20.00 for students with valid identification. You can make reservations by visiting For more information, call 631-724-3700.

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