Something completely new has come to town at Stages St. Louis. It Shoulda Been You makes its first appearance in any regional theater. It ran on Broadway, with Tyne Daly, in 2015.
Rebecca is getting married. There’s an old boyfriend from some years back – the whole family loved him and they have a few reservations about the new guy. But it’s the day of the wedding at a swellegant New York hotel, and the participants have gathered.
Rebecca (Stacy Bono) seems happy enough. Her mother (Zoe Vonder Haar), almost a force of nature, is determined to have the perfect day, including a running joke about the presence or absence of a panini station at the reception. Rebecca’s older, unmarried sister Jenny (Claire Manship) is both her mother’s aide-de-camp for wedding preparations and the subject of mother’s constant disappointment. No boyfriend, overweight – the fact that she’s smart and competent is no consolation to Mom. But it’s Jenny that accidentally spills the beans to Marty (Zal Owen), the old boyfriend – she’d promised not to tell him about the wedding until it was over – and he comes zooming in, begging to talk to the bride.
Chaos, of course, ensues, but there’s enough of a plot twist to keep things zippy. Manship is delightful, fretting one minute and belting a song the next. Stages regulars know that Vonder Haar can hold her own in such a role, and indeed, has chosen not to play it over the top. Also underplaying are Bono and her intended, Jeff Sears, happy enough, certainly but not goofy and not over the moon.
The other in-laws also charm. As the father of the bride, Michael Marotta is a winner, warm, graceful, a great guy with a straight-faced zinger. David Schmittou is his opposite, the groom’s dad, deeply WASP without resorting to echoes of Charles Emerson Winchester, a guy trying hard to emerge from the unexpressed life, at least in public. (It seems with his wife, Kari Ely, he can be a little more exuberant.) Ely, the groom’s mother, is an elegant dipsomaniac, wry and determined. Also significant is the wedding planner Albert (Edward Juvier), near-omniscient and delightful.
David Borneuf’s direction and choreography pull things together very well. Among the pleasures of the evening are the lyrics to the title song, from Brian Hargrove. The book of the show doesn’t require a deep knowledge of Yiddish, but a few jokes will fly over the head of some. Nevertheless, it’s a script with lots of laughs, although at times it can drag a bit. Garth Dunbar’s costumes are just right, especially Ely’s outfit for the ceremony.
All in all, a nice bit of froth for the summer.
It Shoulda Been You
through July 3
Stage St. Louis
Robert G. Reim Theatre
111 S. Geyer Rd., Kirkwood