An enormous crowd-pleaser, "It Shoulda Been You" recalls vintage MGM movie musicals, only enlivened with modern twists.
The Midwest premiere of this fun-filled madcap comedy kicks off Stages St. Louis' 30th anniversary season in high style, its first production since playing Broadway last year for 135 performances.
Stages' first attempt at a new musical showcases exuberant performances and smooth, seamless staging.
Director and choreographer Stephen Bourneuf has emphasized the zany course of events at a fancy wedding by keeping the pace swift and making sure his cast amplifies the humor.
Slickly constructed, the book by lyricist Brian Hargrove is on the corny side, but it's no stodgy walk down memory lane. No siree. The cast shines on composer Barbara Anselmi's score, too.
A marriage uniting the very different Steinbergs and Howards, two well-to-do families, is about to take place in a ritzy hotel.
The moms, controlling personality types, duel with relish, zestily played by two grand dames of St. Louis theater — Zoe Vonder Haar and Kari Ely. Kari's mother's lament about losing her son to another woman is one of the show's highlights, "Where Did I Go Wrong."
The typical agreeable but uninvolved dads, Murray Steinberg (Michael Marotta) and George Howard (David Schmittou), are funny in a droll way.
The young folks are impressive, with Claire Manship appealing as Jenny, the warm, witty sister of the bride. She sensationally delivers the opening number, "I Never Wanted This."
Her comic foil is the funny and charming Zal Owen as bride Rebecca's ex-boyfriend Marty, who shows up at the wedding to try to stop it. We learn the Steinbergs actually think it should have been Marty all along. Oh boy.
Stacie Bono, as the frazzled bride Rebecca, and Jeff Sears, as secretive groom Brian, are Barbie and Ken on the outside, but oh, they have to work through some issues.
Jessie Hooker and Eric Keiser are energetic and supportive as their best friends — maid of honor Annie and best man Greg.
Standing out is Edward Juvier as wedding planner Albert, who provides the right tone between efficient and exasperated. He's delightful in "Albert's Turn."
Veterans Steve Isom and Michele Burdette Elmore have a rollicking good time as the help, and John Flack is a hoot as the addled Uncle Morty.
The cast puts as much oomph as possible into the show, which is performed without an intermission, and is recommended for mature audiences.
James Wolk's scenic design is stunning, and works well heightening both the romance and the comedy.
This breezy romp took the audience by surprise, and turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining evening filled with genuine heart and humor.
"It Shoulda Been You"
- Who: Stages St. Louis
- When: Now through July 3
- Where: Robert G. Reim Theatre, 111 S. Geyer Road, Kirkwood
- Information: www.stagestlouis.org or the box office at 314-821-2407