Theater Review

Despite casting Dallas' best, this wedding musical shoulda been better

Despite casting Dallas' best, this wedding musical shoulda been better

It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
Chris Ramirez and Kimberly Oliver as the best man and co-maid of honor. Photo by Mike Morgan
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
Noelle Mason, Jacob Grant, Steve Golin, Linda Leonard, and Dan Servetnick. Photo by Mike Morgan
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
Jodi Wright as Jenny. Photo by Mike Morgan
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
Wendy Welch and Bob Hess as the parents of the groom. Photo by Mike Morgan
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players
It Shoulda Been You at Uptown Players

A musical comedy set during a wedding "where everything that can go wrong, does" already sounds like a tired idea, but you might be amazed at how limp and flavorless It Shoulda Been You actually manages to be.

Like the main-course chicken at a wedding banquet, a little dried out from having sat under a heat lamp for too long. You've probably eaten that unappetizing dish at scores of weddings before, and you're not particularly looking forward to ever ingesting it again.

That's the feeling this musical inspires, with its battling mothers-in-law, overly fey wedding planner, surprise visit from the bride's ex-boyfriend, and avalanche of "jokes" about the bride's overweight, older sister. It's stale territory, despite the litany of collaborators who join Barbara Anselmi (music and concept) and Brian Hargrove (book and lyrics) in the credits.

There is a modern-day twist that won't be spoiled here, but even that gets semi-buried under the tulle as the two families — one Jewish, one Christian — barrel down the aisle.

Even insisting that the two families be of different religions dates the show, which first surfaced in 2009 and was further developed until it landed on Broadway in 2015. Actual discussions about how the young couple (sweet Katie Moyes Williams and wholesome Matthew Clark) might merge their beliefs are dismissed in favor of goyim jokes and meshuggah asides, cutting the paper-thin characters into ever-flimsier pieces.

But a toast to the cast at Uptown Players, who soldier on with gusto despite a truly forgettable score and tedious dialogue. Director Ann Nieman turns Dallas grande dame Wendy Welch loose as Georgette, the groom's queen bee mother with a WASP's sting, and she's once more successfully paired with frequent onstage husband Bob Hess.

Jodi Wright is similarly commanding as Jenny, the dutiful daughter to Linda Leonard's overbearing Judy and Dan Servetnick's pushover Murray. Jenny thankfully doesn't seem to live in the same far-out world as the rest of the wedding party, so through her we get a grounded, sensible look at the terrible behavior that placecards and favors have brought out in everyone else.

There's only so much disbelief we can share, though. Eventually the wedding-day antics surpass even reality TV-level "brides behaving badly," and with nothing there to support the tacky tiered cake, it crumbles, leaving a bad taste in all our mouths.

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Uptown Players' production of It Shoulda Been You runs through April 9 at the Kalita Humphreys Theater.