Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Applause! Applause! Review of It Shoulda Been You at The Gallery Players by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of It Shoulda Been You at The Gallery Players 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
Book & Lyrics by Brian Hargrove
Music & Concept by Barbara Anselmi
Director: Mark Harborth
Director of Production: Scott A. Cally
Choreographer: Emily Clark
Music Director: Rachel T. Whorton
Production Stage Manager: Traci Bargen
Lighting Designer: Scott A. Cally
Costume Designer: Antonio Consuegra
Scenic Design: Matthew S. Crane
Props Designer: Roxanne Goodby
The Gallery Players
199 14th Street
Park Slope, New York 11215
Reviewed 12/3/17

Even Albert (Joseph Peterson), the seasoned Wedding Planner who has seen everything before and anticipates all the needs of his clients, had to admit, "I didn't see that coming!" There are many surprises and reveals in It Shoulda Been You, performed to perfection in this hilarious production at The Gallery Players. The fun starts even before the show begins as Sam Laakso (who will later play a waiter and Uncle Mort) muddles through the pre-show announcements after having "lost his notes." This was a very clever and innovative way to get everyone in the mood to have a good time. Sam Laakso goes on to enjoy himself after his character, the Wedding Planner-in-Training, is successfully seduced by the sexually aggressive Aunt Sheila (Sonya Rice). It seems "the help" is on the menu as even Jenny Steinberg, the Co-Maid of Honor powerfully portrayed by Christine De Frece, grabs Sam's buns (without his permission) when she gets in a frisky mood. Since the wedding takes place in a hotel, this scenario harkens back to the days when maids and bellboys were expected to provide "extra services" for a tip.

The bride is Rebecca Steinberg (Elyse Beyer), a nice Jewish girl, who is getting married to Brian Howard (Robert Mueller), a Christian who comes from a family of significant means, even though he doesn't necessarily have access to it. Cultural differences and conflicts abound, especially between the two mothers. Judy Steinberg, the Jewish Mother impressively played by Luisa Boyaggi, is particularly strong and has some of the funniest lines in the play. Georgette Howard, the alcoholic Christian mother committed to being the only woman in her son's life until after her death, is convincingly portrayed by Lorinne Lampert. The hapless husbands are Murray Steinberg (Dave Konig), who got a good deal on the hotel, and George Howard (Francis Heaney), who tries to get his son Brian to get his wife-to-be to sign a prenuptial agreement on the day of the wedding. Rebecca's maids of honor are her sister, Jenny, and her very special friend, Annie Sheps (Rachel Gubow), who, unfortunately, is also not Jewish. Brian's best man is Greg Madison, enthusiastically played by Justin Liebergen, and one of two young men who get the opportunity to show off their body on stage by parading around in their underwear. Two unexpected and unanticipated guests include Marty Kaufman (Josh Kolb), who the Steinberg family wish Rebecca was marrying instead of Brian, and a little package of joy, which partially explains why Rebecca has decided to marry Brian in the first place.

The set and the costumes were impressive and perfect for this play. The musical numbers were well-performed and the direction was spot-on, with one exception. When Greg and Annie sing "Love You Till The Day" (lyrics by Ernie Lijoi) in lieu of a toast to the bride and groom, in my opinion, it works better if Annie directs the line, "I'll love you til the day you die" to Brian, and Greg directs it to Rebecca. But I recognize this is a directorial decision and it works fine just the way it is. There are many enjoyable musical numbers in It Shoulda Been You, including "This Day," "Nice," "Where Did I Go Wrong," "Whatever," and "A Little Bit Less Than." Maybe, in the end, you will learn that life and marriage is not the perfect happily-ever-after scenario depicted in old movies but the imperfect can still be quite good. For example, even if Marty loses his pants at the wrong moment, you still get to enjoy the show.  

I strongly recommend you see It Shoulda Been You at The Gallery Players. It plays there through December 17, 2017.  Tickets are $25.00 for adults, and $20.00 for seniors and children 12 and under. For more information and for reservations, call 212-352-3101 or visit 

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