Review by Sandi Durell
So you wanna be a bride (groom)? If you happen to be part of the Steinberg/Howard families, it’s a wedding nightmare of unrealized proportions when Rebecca Steinberg (Sierra Boggess) and Brian Howard (David Burtka) prepare to tie the knot. Of course, with a mother like battling Judy Steinberg (queen of the great one-liners Tyne Daly) and frequently inebriated, uppity, aristocratic Georgette Howard (a superb Harriet Harris), verbally cutting each other to ribbons, about to go to blows, the process is just that much more arduous. The big problem here is that Becca is Jewish and Brian is not. But there are even greater problems looming.
And so, we’re privy to one of the wackiest wedding days at the St. George Hotel (Brooklyn Heights?) in this madcap, fast paced musical comedy written by Brian Hargrove (book/lyrics) and Barbara Anselmi (music/concept) currently at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.
Becca’s older sister Jenny (the impeccable Lisa Howard) has been put in charge by her over-bearing mother Judy, as gopher. Jenny is overweight and, according to Mom, the reason why she can’t snag a husband (an on-going theme throughout the 100 minutes). Beautiful Becca (a sensational looking/sounding Boggess) wants it all to be “Perfect” as she whimpers and hides, her feathers in a continuous ruffle of emotional tantrums – more like bridezilla. What could be troubling this girl? Maybe her good friend Annie Shepard (Montego Glover) has a clue?
Enter old boyfriend Marty Kaufman (a perfectly cast zany Josh Grisetti) who has come to save her. After all, the family would all prefer him because he’s the Jewish guy. As the family members gather and greet Marty, they each sing their own hysterical version of why “It Shoulda Been You,” while the brilliantly funny Edward Hibbert as Albert the wedding planner, orchestrates the comings and goings (reminiscent of Martin Short as Franck – Father of the Bride).
With a lot of chasing and running up and down Anna Luizos’ double decker hotel set (a la Marx Brothers style), there are laughs-a-plenty as the women meet up at the beauty parlor and Daly has to make “Nice” to Harris in this deliciously bitchy and humorous scene while the groom is practicing some Jewish phrases – Kinahora!
Making his directorial debut, David Hyde Pierce, delectably handles the talented cast in this vaudeville-like romp as secrets unveil and new relationships come into focus. No, this is not your ordinary wedding, as surprises loom large.
Rounding out the cast of wedding participants are the fathers, the always humorous Chip Zien, as Murray Steinberg, and Michael X. Martin as the typical emotionally stiff non-Jew George Howard. Anne L. Nathan as Mimsy and Adam Heller as Walt (hotel employees who do a lot of furniture moving – Nathan also playing the hot-to-trot Aunt Sheila), have shining moments, as does Nick Spangler as Greg Madison (Brian’s best man).
Costumes are by the master William Ivey Long, lively choreography by Josh Rhodes, and Lawrence Yurman is musical director and arranger.
It’s a light, laughable,goofy fun production, with a twist that pushes all the current buttons.
Photos: Joan Marcus
It Shoulda Been You – Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 West 47 Street)