Nicholas Gabis, Landon Scolar, Veronica Riggs, & Hannah Jones Thomas in It Shoulda Been You. Photo:Pandora
It Shoulda Been You
Book & lyrics by Brian Hargrove
Music by Barbara Anselmi
Directed by Zachary Boone
A review by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
It’s the day of the wedding. Of course, everyone is nervous except the unflappable wedding planner who is on the phone with the bride’s sister repeatedly. Then when she calls him for the umpteenth time, she accidentally calls her sister’s ex-boyfriend. Or was it an accident?
Act one of It Shoulda Been You plays much like a standard romantic comedy, filled with cliches strung together between terrific songs, expressed through fast, witty dialogue delivered by a highly adept ensemble moving at a scrappy pace around a gorgeous, multi-level set.
Leading up to intermission the will-they/won’t-they tension builds expectations of a surprise to come and when it does, it’s pretty good. Because this is a Pandora Production, you may hazard a fair guess as to the nature of the twist, but I won’t reveal it here. After the familiarity of the early scenes, act two is all about the fact that nothing was as it seems.
This is a rare wedding comedy where the central character is the sister, Jenny, and not the bride, and Jennifer Poliskie occupies that center with wacky grace and confidence. Of course, she sings like a dream, and so does Veronica Riggs as the bride, Rebecca.
Their mother is played with stern disapproval by Carol Tyree Williams, always reminding the older Jenny that her younger sister is getting married before her and criticizing her appearance, her weight, etc. As the scenario unfolds, Jenny is the one under the greatest burden (if just barely) and it is she that we identify with.
Which is not to say the other characters; Rebecca, her fiance, Brian (Landon Scholar), his best man, George (Mike Fryman) and her co-maid of honor, Annie (Tash J. Wilson-Hatchett) don’t all have journeys to finish out before the final curtain. Brian Hargrove’s book is generous in giving all of these characters equal time.
That goes for the soon-to-be-in-laws as well. Michelle Lori is Brian’s mother, a woman with a sharp, acerbic wit who is not in support of the happy union. But she and Williams have a fun duet just before the end, “That’s Family”, that illustrates their commonality.
Andy Epstein and Richard Ryan are their spouses, and both very good and total pros, but the mothers get the better dialogue. Josh O’Brien has a lot of fun as Rebecca’s ex who has come to stop the wedding, and he is given a terrific entrance that I won’t spoil here. Michael J. Drury plays the indefatigable wedding planner who anticipates any eventuality, however improbable, and one cannot help but imagine that confidence and preparedness being an ingredient in Drury’s real-life role as the head of Pandora.
Gina Vito’s costumes are very good, full of style for the women and a range of tuxedos for the men, and Eric Allgeier’s set almost steals the show; a double-decker with drawer-like compartments, it was described by more than one regular Pandora patron as “the best set they have ever had!” and I would tend to agree. It managed the many scene changes while also just being a pleasure to take in visually. Beautiful work.
It Shoulda Been You is a good script but it needs a top flight execution. Fortunately it receives just that under Zachary Boone’s direction and a sparkling cast who knows how to play it. Some of the microphones didn’t sound up to par is my quibble, especially with Carol Tyree Williams and Tash J. Wilson-Hatchett, although the latter actor had a strong enough voice to overcome the issue.
In his curtain speech, Drury dropped the news that the upcoming 2023-24 season (a doozy BTW) would be his last, an announcement that elicited gasps and exclamations of “NO” from the audience. Drury and Pandora have become one and the same in people’s minds, and he has steered a true course for the company in his time, setting a standard against which other companies are measured.
Featuring Kristy Calman, Michael J. Drury, Andy Epstein, Mike Fryman, Nicholas Gabis, Michelle Lori, Josh O’Brien, Jennifer Poliskie, Veronica Riggs, Richard Ryan, Landon Scholar, Hannah Jones Thomas, Carol Tyree Williams, & Tasha J. Wilson-Hatchett
Band: Susan Crocker, Dathan Echols, Etana Farfinkle, Julie McKay, Dave Neill
It Shoulda Been You
May 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 @ 7:30 pm
May 14 @ 2:30 pm
May 21 @ 5:30 pm
May 22 @ 7:00 pm
The Henry Clay Theater
604 S. Third Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.