By Joseph Myers
“It Shoulda Been You” is a madcap musical comedy about the hectic reality of planning a wedding—anything that could possibly go wrong, does go wrong: conflicting in-laws, bridesmaid drama, meddling exes, and planning mishaps. This fun musical shows the less glamorous side to weddings in a humorous light.
The first half of the show seems to be rather trite, leaning far too heavily on stereotypes and clichés as well as borrowing from the typical antics of rom-com wedding movies. The characters initially seem very two-dimensional, while a majority of the humor is reliant on poking fun at stereotype of tense relationships within Jewish families. The plot is unclear and although humorous, drags quite a bit.
Halfway through the show, there is a brilliantly executed plot twist that changes the entire dynamic of the musical, which allows the plot and the character development to flourish. Previously boring characters are suddenly much more compelling and multi-layered. The unexpected twist-and-turns in the second part of the musical save it from being redundant and bring a modern element to the story.
While the music is lovely, it is ultimately forgettable. No song in particular stands out despite the relatively clever lyrics. Despite this, the music is very effective in progressing the plot and character development. Although the music could be catchier, it serves its essential purpose.
The costuming and sets are magnificent homage to all things kitsch. The bright, gaudy, and larger-than-life aesthetic to the musical compliments the upbeat and bold nature of the show, highlighting the fun and zany happenings at a wedding.
Lisa Howard, who plays Jenny, steals the show, as the portrayal of sister of the bride. She is both a tremendous actress and singer, and she plays the character with such tenderness and genuineness, that you can’t help but love her. Tyne Daly, who plays the outspoken mother-of-the-bride, Judy, does a fantastic job making her character daringly outrageous, while still believable. The character of Judy is a surreal character, and Daly gives her the right balance of accessibility and craziness so that the character is not a monotonous caricature.
“It Shoulda Been You” is both hilarious and sweet with its fast-paced humor as well as its message of love and acceptance. While certain aspects of the musical are farcical, it is incredibly relatable to anyone. Despite some bumps along the way, “It Shoulda Been You” is an exciting and entertaining story about the importance of family, friends, and love.
“It Shoulda Been You” is playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St.
Joseph Myers is Theater/Books Editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org