By PAM HARBAUGH
I sounded like a shill — an enthusiastic audience member planted by a theater (and sometimes politicians) to encourage audience response. But I laughed all the way through “It Shoulda Been You,” the musical comedy currently on stage at the Henegar.
Written by Brian Hargrove with music by Barbara Anselmi, “It Shoulda Been You” is a contemporary, very contemporary, take on love. It surrounds the wedding of Rebecca Steinberg and Brian Howard, who each come from families entrenched in their own communities — one family is Jewish, the other is Protestant. A host of other characters flesh out the backstories of the couple and their families. And this show is filled with one-liners that would make Jackie Mason proud.
Directed by Hank Rion and music directed by conductor Staci Cleveland, this long one-act musical zips along. And Mr. Rion has assembled a perfect cast for it.
Kaimi Lucker (the show’s vocal director) is a singing treat as Rebecca’s older, plumper sister Jenny who does for others much more than for herself. Shane Frampton hits the perfect chord as Judy Steinberg, the nagging mother of the bride. And Beth McKenzie and Shara Kyles are terrific as the bride and the bride’s friend, Annie. Beautiful voiced and funny as can be, Karen Monks is a great addition to the cast in her multiple roles as the maid and drunkenly lascivious Aunt Sheila.
But watch out ladies…Joan Taddie is in the house and comes within a hair of stealing the show in her hysterical send up of the groom’s mother, Georgette. This woman keeps ripening as a performer and is terrific in this role, her best ever.
The men have their day, too. Rob Landers is spot on ideal as Murray Steinberg, the harangued father of the bride. Dion Khan is an absolute hoot as the effeminately flamboyant wedding planner, Albert, a man who knows what the bride’s mother wants before she even asks. Benjamin M. Benya oozes endearing as Marty, the bride’s old boyfriend. Joey Paris is funny as the groom’s goofy friend, Greg. Playing the waiter, Adam Lucker doubles as Uncle Morty, and may have only a few lines but his timing and delivery are so impeccable he brings a cascade of laughs. Joe Horton makes a most likeable groom, especially in the song and dance number with the father, George, played with scene stealing finesse by Terrence Girard.
In fact, that father/son dance number, choreographed by Amanda Cheyenne Manis, is one of the show’s highlights and would have won that mantle outright if it weren’t for that doggoned Joan Taddie.
No, this is not a big musical. It runs 90 minutes without intermission. David Robertson’s scenic design is basically background facilitating Mr. Rion’s staging. Most of the visual movement comes from Josh Huss’ lighting design. This simple approach allows for the talented cast, all decked out in Vanessa Glenn’s spot on costume design, to fill the stage.
This is a fun little show and a great way to cap off a good evening. So make some restaurant reservations in downtown Melbourne, enjoy, then head to the Henegar to fill up on the laughs.
SIDE O’ GRITS: “It Shoulda Been You” runs through Jan. 29 at the Henegar Center, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. Tickets are $16 to $26. Call 321-723-8698, visit Henegar.org
Disclaimer…yes, I direct from time to time for the Henegar. Yes, Joan Taddie and Terrence Girard review occasionally for Brevard Culture. So if that’s too much conflict of interest for you, just head on over to the Henegar and see for yourself.