As director of this production, Marc Walentowicz has written, “It Shoulda Been You has its heart on its sleeve. This show is gut-bustingly funny.”
If you have ever doubted that, in his words, “Love is the great equalizer,” then you must see this play. Only an inoculation of cynicism just prior to showtime might prevent you from getting caught up in the sappy and slightly risque evocation of love, the thing Thackeray wrote “makes fools of us all.”
There are plenty of fools to be had in this musical comedy that centers on a wedding between Brian (played by Casey Coulter) and Rebecca (Kimberly Ellis). The real dynamic, however, swirls around their mothers. The bride’s mother is Judy (Colleen Meade Ripper) who plays the Jewish dynamic to the hilt in her sarcastic banter with the groom’s mother Georgette (Jackie Abercrombie). As Georgette says to Judy, “I would have hated to miss my son’s first wedding,” in the full expectation that his marriage to a Jewish girl won’t last! This is reinforced when Brian makes a hash of the Yiddish words he uses while trying to impress his bride’s parents.
The wedding planner Albert is played to the gay hilt by Sebastian Adams. Dressed in pants and a sport jacket but sporting lots of rings and lipstick, many in the audience had to consult the programme to figure out if the actor was male or female. He charmed the audience with just the right dash of charisma.
The play features one twist after another, as we learn that both the bride and groom are gay! Rather than being aghast at the revelation her son is gay, Brian’s mother is thrilled! There is also a “Will and Grace” type of relationship in the play, but it is one of the joys of the play to discover that for yourself.
The lack of having mikes attached to each performer meant that some of their punchlines are lost, especially as the on-stage orchestra tended to drown out the words. Those sitting stage right are unfortunately not able to see the orchestra, which is out of sight, also stage right.
Nonetheless, It Shoulda Been You is a nice ride, a fun gig that is most entertaining. If you are in Michigan, it is worth the trip to Dearborn! The play has music by Barbara Anselmi and book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove.
The Players Guild of Dearborn concludes its 91st season with this show on May 26, 2019. Photo by Dr. Matt Emanuele