Friday, April 10, 2015

It Shoulda Been You ***

This farcical musical with book and some lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music and concept by Barbara Anselmi has reached Broadway after a successful 2011 run at George St. Playhouse in New Jersey. It raises the question of whether loads of talent and style can overcome a lack of substance and answers it with a definite “maybe.” If for no other reason, we should be grateful that it provides employment for such troupers as Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Edward Hibbert and Chip Zien as well as talented younger performers including Lisa Howard, Sierra Boggess and Josh Grisetti. The hoary plot involves the wedding of a Jewish woman and a Catholic man. Both sets of parents are unhappy about the impending marriage and a former boyfriend is determined to stop it. Yes, this field has been plowed many times before, but this time there’s a mildly surprising twist that I won’t reveal here. No cliche escapes. The luxurious hotel set by Anita Louizos is very attractive, as are William Ivey Long’s costumes. David Hyde Pierce shows a real talent for directing. The music, in a variety of styles, is pleasant. The lyrics are wildly uneven. Some are fine, but others are clunkily unmusical. Five people get credits for additional lyrics. In case you are wondering how anything this slight could have reached Broadway, the fact that Hargrove is Pierce's husband certainly didn't hurt. The show could serve as the textbook definition of a guilty pleasure. You might hate yourself for laughing at some of the one-liners, but laugh you will. With its shameless pandering to two pillars of the Broadway audience, Jews and gays, it should have a long run. Running time: one hour 40 minutes, no intermission.

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