By Nora Dominick ‘17/Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
Family can be challenging, especially at weddings. It Shoulda Been You brings the heightened comedy of a family gathering, adds some music and creates one of the funniest, down to earth and heartfelt comedies on Broadway this season. It Shoulda Been You is currently playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in NYC and puts a modern spin on the traditional family wedding comedy.
It Shoulda Been You tells the story of the Steinberg and Howard wedding. The bride, Rebecca (Sierra Boggess), comes from a typical Jewish family while the groom, Brian (David Burtka), is Catholic. Her mother is a force to be reckoned with, his mother just wants to keep her little boy and drinks a little too much. Weddings never go off without a hitch. When Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend Marty (Josh Grisetti) unexpectedly shows up at the ceremony, the perfect wedding Rebecca’s mother, Judy (Tyne Daly) and her sister, Jenny (Lisa Howard) have painstakingly tried to make perfect begins to fall apart. Plots are hatched, pacts are made, secrets are exposed and Jenny is left to turn this monumental disaster into the perfect, happily ever after.
With a book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music by Barbara Anselmi, It Shoulda Been You combines hilarious comedy with soon to be classic Broadway songs. Leading off the cast is the ferocious, extremely talented Lisa Howard. Howard’s portrayal of Jenny is career-defining as she plays a character down on herself and trying to find her place within her family. From her opening number, “I Never Wanted This,” to the show-stopping crowd raising number “Jenny’s Blues,” Howard commands the audience. Howard’s impeccable vocal range and talent is showcased in “Jenny’s Blues” and it’s arguably the best number of It Shoulda Been You.
Howard’s scenes opposite Tyne Daly are hilarious and heartbreaking all at once. From the moment their characters interact, the tension and relationship of this mother and daughter is very clear. Jenny continuously tries to impress her mother, while her mother continues to expect too much of her. It Shoulda Been You paints a vivid, heartbreaking picture of a heavy-set woman who tries to except herself while her family continuously rips her down. Howard does an amazing job with the material given and Daly plays the perfect adversary for Howard’s character.
Daly also shares some of the funniest scenes opposite Harriet Harris, who plays Brian’s mother, Georgette. Daly and Harris have an incredible moment during the musical number, “Nice.” Judy must try to get along with Georgette during an outing to the spa before Rebecca and Brian’s wedding. Daly sings about trying to act nice to her new in-law and although Harris never sings in the number, her one-liners back to Daly are flawless. Daly portrays the stereotypical Jewish mother with ease as she goes on an emotional journey of growth in It Shoulda Been You. Harris is also a force to be reckoned with in this new musical. Her comedic timing is the stuff of legends as she creates some of the most hilarious moments in It Shoulda Been You. Harris uses not only her physical comedy but also some of the best one-liners on Broadway today. She is a comedic force to be trifled with and will surely continue to make audiences laugh and cry night after night.
Sierra Boggess and David Burtka also do an incredible job in It Shoulda Been You. Burtka’s making his triumphant return to the stage and he does so with ease. His dancing in the musical number, “Back in the Day” alongside Michael X. Martin, adds a dance flare to the already strong Broadway musical. Boggess also shows off her powerhouse soprano voice in the musical number, “A Little Bit Less Than.” It’s hard to match the talent of these two Broadway stars.
Another surprise in It Shoulda Been You is Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend Marty played by the talented Josh Grisetti. From the moment Marty is introduced he is already the physical comedy master. He begins It Shoulda Been You by singing and sprinting from the mezzanine all the way down to the stage. He is constantly running through the set and providing some hilarious physical moments. Also making for a hilarious moment, Rebecca’s maid of honor, Annie (Montego Glover) and Brian’s best man, Greg (Nick Spangler) create a hilarious musical number during the after party for the wedding. The duo get up on stage and bring the theater to a rousing applause when they sing, “Love You Till the Day.” The entire cast of It Shoulda Been You creates some hilarious, heartfelt and simultaneously gut-wrenching moments.
The scenic design by Anna Louizos (Cinderella, Honeymoon in Vegas) is also stunning. The set never moves. It is a stationary setup of the inside of the St. George Hotel where the wedding is being held. Rooms are created by ensemble members and additional small set pieces out of thin air. It works perfectly for a musical that scores big laughs and doesn’t have an intermission.
It Shoulda Been You is a comedic musical for the ages. The entire cast does an impeccable job at bringing out true and honest moments that relate to any family. Lisa Howard brings the house down and Tyne Daly shines as It Shoulda Been You not only delivers high-laughs but also one of the biggest plot-twists on Broadway right now. Make sure to grab your tickets to this modern spin on the traditional family wedding.