An Abundance of Talent Floods the SLOC Stage with a So So Script
It Shoulda Been You, currently at SLOC, with book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music and concept by Barbara Anselmi, presents an interesting dilemma. It is the day of the Steinberg Howard wedding. Rebecca Steinberg is the somewhat nervous but determined Jewish bride-to-be, Brian Howard, the conservative Catholic groom.
The stage is once again filled to the brim with strong local talent. The play itself is filled to the brim with every possible stereotype you could imagine. The bride’s mother is an overbearing, hyper-critical negative stereotypical Jewish mother, her father a somewhat mealy dad, seemingly always cow-towing to his overbearing wife. The groom’s mother is an alcoholic who thinks she’s getting her daily fruit intake by adding a twist to her morning vodka. And so it goes from there.
I found myself laughing in spite of myself. There are some very funny moments and loads of insulting stereotypes. The music, while not uninspired, it certainly seems very inspired by the works of Stephen Sondheim and has some great moments. Despite the negatives, it is the acting, singing and direction that makes this show work. Director Gary Hoffmann skillfully moves his large cast through its paces with well-timed performances.
Melissa Putterman Hoffmann as Judy Steinberg, mother of the bride, is brilliant in the role. Her comic timing never misses and she never overplays the words she has been given. So too, is Josephine E. O’Connor as the mother of the groom. Together the two women offer the best laughs of the night as well, presenting some of the worst of the stereotypes offered. Dennis Skiba and David Robert Orr perfectly complement the two as their husbands.
Musical Director Emily Helena Rose has done an outstanding job with the abundance of talent she has been offered in this production. Jess Sisti as the bride’s sister Jenny through whose eyes we see the play unfold, has the performance of the night with her Jenny’s Blues. Ben Amey is the wedding planner, Rory Alexa, James W. Alexander, A.J. Testa, Regan Slotnick, and Steven Baldwin as the bride, groom the other maid of honor and the bride’s ex, round out the primary players. Each has their moment or two to shine and they all do it exceptionally well.
Once again, SOC misses the boat with their set design. Given the unique stage available to them, they fail to make the most out of what they have to work with. The sets are beginning to look like retreads of former productions and the lack of creativity here is coming through. On the positive side, costume designer Vivian Galloway has come through with delightful costumes that clearly define the characters with whom she is working.
On the whole, SLOC’s production of It Shoulda Been You has more positives to offer than negatives. You will laugh; the talent is over the top, and that in and of itself will make it worthwhile to spend a few hours at the Steinberg Howard wedding. SLOC couldn’t control the script other than picking a different show. It’s no surprise the show had a fairly limited Broadway run. Some people like chopped liver, others prefer pate and some are vegetarians…sometimes there is no accounting for one person’s taste over another. Go and see for yourself.
It Shoulda Been You at SLOC 427 Franklin Street, Schenectady. Through May 14. For ticket information and reservations: 518-730-7370 or online at www.sloctheater.org.
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