It Shoulda Been You

Aug 17 2017 | By More

★★★★☆    Light-hearted and melodic

theSpace@Jeffrey Street (Venue 45): Sat 12 – Sat 19 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Flying along with tuneful purpose, It Shoulda Been You, Room 29’s debut production at theSpace on Jeffrey Street, is a definite hit.

The musical – which made its Broadway debut as recently as 2015 – has music by Barbra Anselmi and book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove. Set on the day of the wedding between New Yorkers Rebecca Steinberg and Brian Howard, the story is diverting if a little predictable in its series of misadventures. Similarly, the tunes are pleasant rather than memorable, but it is a sturdy enough vehicle.

Cathy Geddie and Marnie Yule: It Shoulda Been You in rehearsal. Pic Lisa Peterson

The central character is not either of the less-than-happy couple, but the bride’s put-upon sister Jenny. Marnie Yule is excellent in the role, with a strong, melodic voice, a confident stage presence and the ability to play comedy and pathos equally well.

Cathy Geddie invests what could be the stereotypical ‘Jewish mother’ role with humour and surprising subtlety, while Peter Robson gives her husband a hangdog dignity.

Rae Mitchell is the more waspish (in both senses) mother of the groom, and gives her a wounded, spiky sympathy; John Bruce gives her husband an icy calculation mixed with a devilish twinkle.

Elayn Fraser and Sean Taheny, as the couple of the hour, are appealing enough, with Fraser’s singing a real high point, and Taheny’s comic timing a real plus. Ruaridh Nichols has a puppyish charm as Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend Marty, with his duets with Yule particularly effective.

apparently minor characters

The two highlights of the production are probably featured numbers for apparently minor characters – best man Greg (Andrew Gardiner) and chief bridesmaid Annie (Christina Craven) perform a duet that is deliciously, and quite deliberately, over the top.

Max Reid’s wedding planner Albert, meanwhile, makes his every line count, and his featured number is an absolute joy. Rowan Hall and Jack Bruce, who have dual roles as his assistants and embarrassing Steinberg relatives, are versatile and funny.

The overall standard of singing is remarkably high. The decision not to use mics in an awkward size of venue pays off; despite a seven-piece band under the musical direction of Steven Segaud, there are very few problems with audibility, even with the audience on three sides, except when the odd bit of dialogue is drowned out early on.

Where this seating arrangement does matter is in some of the placement of the performers. Generally, director Neil Lavin organises the troops well, keeping things fresh and mobile. However, there are times – notably and unfortunately during a big reveal scene at the end – where the placing of the cast, and their static nature, makes it difficult for large sections of the audience to see very much at all apart from someone’s back.

This is a minor glitch in a production that is tuneful and peppy. The musical itself may not be terribly original or profound, but here it zips along melodically and with a great deal of charm.

Running time 1 hour 40 minutes (no interval)
theSpace @ Jeffrey Street (Venue 45), 63 Jeffrey Street, EH1 1DH
Saturday 12 – Saturday 19 August 2017
Daily at 8.00 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Company Facebook: @Room29Theatre
Twitter: @room29theatre

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