Thursday, 01 June 2017 09:00

Tying the Knot (Or Not?): The merry matrimony of 'It Shoulda Been You'

Written by  Jane Simons
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Tying the Knot (Or Not?): The merry matrimony of 'It Shoulda Been You' Photo by Katherine Nofs.

Weddings are a production fraught with unpredictability.

And as wedding season ramps up, Farmer’s Alley Theatre is giving audiences a uniquely funny, unpredictable insight into one couple’s impending nuptials as it debuts It Shoulda Been You on June 9 at the Little Theatre on Western Michigan University’s campus.

The musical farce made its Broadway debut in March 2015, but had a short run and never got the accolades it deserved, according to Adam Weiner, executive director of Farmer’s Alley. He said Kathy Mulay, who directs the local production, believes the show to be one of the funniest Broadway productions she has ever seen.

“We are the first theater company in Michigan to stage It Shoulda Been You,” Weiner said. “It’s done in traditional musical theater style and it has a really good sound to it.”

The musical is centered around the wedding of Rebecca Steinberg, who is Jewish, to her Catholic fiancé Brian Howard. The bride’s mother, Judy Steinberg, is a force of nature who isn’t convinced that marrying Brian is the best choice or her daughter.

Meanwhile, Jenny, Rebecca’s sister, has to plan the wedding and hold it all together, while Marty, Rebecca’s ex, decides to throw a wrench in the works. When he arrives, Rebecca’s family tells him, “It shoulda been you,” hence the title. From there, the whole play spirals hilariously out of control (and then back under control) in a way we can’t explain here without spoiling anything.

The cast includes actors from Chicago, New York and St. Louis, in addition to local talent including Whitney Weiner, Gina Chimner and Ben Zylman. Adam Weiner said the Internet has made it easier to draw talent from throughout the United States — auditions via Facetime and Skype are common now.

Weiner said he doesn’t have difficulty getting actors to come to Kalamazoo to perform. In fact, It Shoulda Been You has the largest number of out-of-town actors ever to perform at Farmer’s Alley.

“Over the years, we’ve developed a reputation and a rapport,” Weiner said of Farmer’s Alley. “The acting community is very small and people talk to each other. Our patrons have told us they hear about Farmer’s Alley when they attend theater performances in New York City.

“The actors we work with all love Kalamazoo. It’s especially appealing to working actors from Los Angeles or New York, because they can work in a smaller community with a very vibrant art scene.”

Weiner said his theater contributes to that art scene by offering an eclectic mix of productions.

“Crafting a season is an art unto itself,” Weiner said. “Our goal and mission has always been to provide an eclectic mix with old and new challenges.”

With June being the traditional wedding month, Weiner said It Shoulda Been You makes sense.

“It’s something new and it’s a fun show that people can enjoy,” he said. “I know the area and most people in general are title-conscious, but they have to trust us and come to the theater because we know they’ll have a great time and enjoy it.”

In addition to Farmer’s Alley, It Shoulda Been You also will be performed at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts in August and at The Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids in September.

It Shoulda Been You
Farmers Alley Theatre
221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo
June 9-25
farmersalleytheatre.com, (269) 343-2727

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