Show/Venue: It Shoulda Been You at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Date: Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 @ 2pm
Starring: Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Lisa Howard, Sierra Boggess, David Burtka, Josh Grisetti
When my co-worker, Christina, won free tickets to see It Shoulda Been You in previews, she asked if I would want to go; and with this cast and David Hyde Pierce’s Broadway Directorial Debut, how could I say no!? The show is opening tonight on Broadway, so I wanted to post my review of the preview that we saw, but without giving away any of the great surprises that the show has to offer.
A strong cast, Tyne Daly (“Cagney and Lacey,” Gypsy), Harriet Harris (“Desperate Housewives,” Cinderella, Thoroughly Modern Millie), Lisa Howard (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, 9 to 5, South Pacific), Sierra Boggess (The Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid), David Burtka (Gypsy, “How I Met Your Mother” and Neil Patrick Harris’ husband) and Josh Grisetti (RENT) comprise the leads and the various members of a family being blended together. Even when I got the mailer about the show, I was intrigued by the cast and wanted to go see the show.
Performed without an intermission in previews, the show opens on Howard, who plays the Bride’s sister, Jenny (“I Never Wanted This”). She’s getting ready for Rebecca’s (Boggess) wedding to Brian (Burtka) and helping her mother (Daly) will all sorts of last minute issues. The wedding planner, Albert (hilariously played by Edward Hibbert), helps Jenny deal with her mother and her many changes in requests; do they keep the panini station or cancel it?
Rebecca and Brian enter after a morning jog and Jenny does her best to keep him from the sight of her mother. As everyone leaves to get prepared for the wedding, Rebecca and Jenny have a great sisterly moment (“Perfect”). As Rebecca leaves to go meet their mother, her Maid of Honor, Annie (Montego Glover from Memphis, The Color Purple) and her soon to be Mother-in-Law, Jenny starts to panic. In her panic, she accidentally calls Marty Kaufman (Grisetti), who’s an old family friend, but also Rebecca’s ex. Grisetti in his Broadway debut role, answers Jenny’s call from one of the box seats in the theatre and then makes an amusing and winded entrance into the hotel/stage to try and stop Rebecca from getting married to Brian (“It Shoulda Been You”). After this number, it seems like Marty is not the only one thinking that Rebecca should not marry Brian, as her whole family express their concerns.
Then we’re introduced to some of Brian’s family, as he has a lovely song & dance number with his father, George (Michael X. Martin from The Bridges of Madison County, Nice Work If You Can Get It), about growing up and how he should have been a more attentive parent. Any doubts I had about Burtka as a performer, were dispelled here, as he holds his own with Martin and dances his way into the audience’s heart, taps and all.
Daly gets a featured number as she sings about her family in “Nice,” which rolls into a number where Albert sings about all he has seen as an experienced wedding planner to his staff in “Albert’s Turn.” Then we finally meet Brian’s alcoholic mother, Georgette (Harris), who laments about how her efforts to discourage her son away from marriage and to turn him gay have not worked (“Where Did I Go Wrong”).
At what I would believe could be the end of Act One, Howard gets a show stopping number “Beautiful,” as she tells the story of growing up in the shadow of her more traditionally pretty sister and how no one ever calls her beautiful. Jenny shows how her mother’s overbearing personality has begun to take its toll on her emotionally, as she shows a vulnerable side, while getting ready to put on her bridesmaid’s dress.
Finally, the wedding ceremony takes place (“A Perfect Ending”) and the families head to the banquet hall for the reception. Here, the Best Man, Greg, (Nick Spangler from The Book of Mormon, Cinderella) and Annie serenade their best friends with “Love You Till the Day” which is equal parts hilarious and over the top in tribute to Rebecca & Brian.
What follows the wedding and banquet is a series of twists & surprises that really engages the audience and adds to their enjoyment of the whole show. Yes, there’s a happy ending, but not without a few shocks to each side of the Howard and Steinberg families.
Overall, I had a great time at the show. Even without a huge production, as the whole show takes place at the hotel, the small changes that are made in each scene really transport the audience to various places in the hotel; rooms, hallways, banquet halls, bathrooms, etc. The costume team has done a great job with the dresses and suits for all of the actors, which really make some of the surprises even better.
Once the show opens, I hope to see it again and maybe in a box seat, so I can be next to Grisetti for his big entrance!
1. I Never Wanted This
2. This Day (Opening)
4. It Shoulda Been You
6. Back in the Day
8. Albert’s Turn
9. Where Did I Go Wrong
11. A Perfect Ending
12. Love You Till the Day
13. Jenny’s Blues
15. A Little Bit Less Than
16. What They Never Tell You
17. Perfect/Whatever (Reprise)
18. That’s Family