Triangle arts review
Durham Performing Arts Center
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Theatre In The Park
TIP’s cast for It Shoulda Been You includes (from left) Tyanna West as Annie, Mackie Raymond as Rebecca, Alison Lawrence as Judy, and Elizabeth Hankla as Jenny (photo by Catherine Davis Photography)
Onstage now at Theatre in the Park under the direction of Jackson Cooper, It Shoulda Been Youis a bright, fun musical that everyone is sure to enjoy. The fun starts with Jenny (Elizabeth Hankla), except she’s not having fun. Jenny is busy preparing for her sister, Rebecca’s (Mackie Raymond) imminent wedding. Unfortunately, the girls’ mother, Judy (Alison Lawrence) isn’t making that easy. Her constant barking of commands and jabbing at Jenny’s weight and unmarried status showcase the strained nature of their relationship.
Despite all this, Jenny forges ahead, a plucky, likeable main character whom Hankla plays with a lot of spunk. Slowly but surely, the audience is introduced to all of Jenny and Rebecca’s colorful Jewish family and to the groom’s rich, uptight family. Add in some verbal sparring between the two sets of mothers, an unexpected wedding crasher in the form of Rebecca’s ex, Marty (Greg Toft), and a big secret simmering below the surface; what you end up with is a whole lot of chaotic fun.
All the craziness plays out against Nathaniel Conti’s colorful, well-used set. Cooper utilizes every inch of the stage space in his direction, including the two high balconies where characters frequently converse. He even places characters in the audience for exciting entries. This adds up to direction that is fun, vibrant, and visually interesting. All of these same qualities are found in Bradley Barefoot’s engaging choreography too.
The fun continues through the shocking ending of the first act and then the hilariously done denoument of the second act. Strong performances from Hankla and Raymond make the two female leads worth rooting for. Brian Fisher also stands out here with his comedic portrayal of Albert, the bemused wedding planner, and Toft adds a lot of energy, fun, and likeability to his character.
All in all, this is a fun little musical that has something for everyone.
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