Stage Review: Millennial Theatre’s ‘It Shoulda Been You’ Sparkles

By J.E. Ballantyne Jr.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Any time you talk about a play about weddings, the inevitable comes to mind: “Tony & Tina’s Wedding.” It has been a staple on stage everywhere for a good many years.

Friday night at the Hopewell Theatre, however, Millennial Theatre Company introduced a relative newbie to that genre. “It Shoulda Been You,” by Barbara Anselmi and Brian Hargrove, is a fast-paced looney look at a wedding day to be remembered. This fun musical follows the wedding day of Rebecca Steinberg and Brian Howard. That is the only thing normal about this particular day.

Nerves and hostilities take over as converging families reflect on what is about to take place. Colleen Chance lights the fire as Jenny (sister of the bride) with a belty opening number “I Never Wanted This.” Chance carries much of the show and is up to the task as the put-upon sister that has to make everything right. After all, aren’t all of the problems her fault?

Chance gives a strong performance throughout but excels with “Beautiful” and “Jenny’s Blues.” Her command of the stage and strong vocals light up what is already a great score. Portraying her sister, Rebecca, is Natalina Kazimir along with husband-to-be, Brian, played by Edward Bazzell.

Both Kazimir and Bazzell turn in energetic and convincing performances as the “about to be happy couple.” Kazimir pairs well with Chance in “Perfect” as the two sisters express their admiration for each other while Bazzell shows his strong comedic talent with dad, George, in “Back In the Day,” as George attempts to form a bond with his son that has been absent in their relationship.

Andy Scott turns in a great performance as George with a great feel for the material and an excellent characterization. To add to his performance, he has an amazing resemblance to Chevy Chase, which adds even more to the character.

Roz Blystone gives one of her best ever performances as Brian’s mother, Georgette. She laments that she is losing her son to another woman and regrets that he didn’t turn out gay in “Where Did I Go Wrong.” Blystone has that quality to play diverse roles and seems to top each previous character performance. Her broad approach to the character makes for many of the comedic moments in the show.

Father of the happy bride, Murray, played by Terry Shears does pretty much whatever he is told by wife, Judy (Maureen Collins). Shears is having a great time and rises to the surface in the title number, “It Shoulda Been You,” as Rebecca’s family laments to former beau, Marty, that he should be the one marrying Rebecca.

Nate Beagle plays a desperate Marty as he rushes in at the last moment to try and stop the wedding. Beagle is always a sure bet in a supporting role and he delivers here with a character that feels that it is his duty to keep Rebecca from making a sure mistake.

It is almost impossible to find a weak character in this production but the hub of this crazy wheel is without a doubt, Rebecca’s overbearing Jewish mother, Judy. Played by Maureen Collins, Judy is the fuel that makes this production run. And Collins makes the most of it. For years she has been one of the foremost actresses on any Youngstown stage and she provides a performance here that is spectacular in every way. She plays the character to the hilt in “Nice” as she supposedly attempts to be nice to Brian’s mother, all the while sending her sharp barbs. But she flips that character with ease in “What They Never Tell You.”

Other strong performances included Ty Hanes as Greg Madison, Sierra Ellis as Annie, a hilarious Adam Dominick as Albert, Ben Doss as Walt and Uncle Morty, Aunt Sheila played by PK Lankford and Mimsy by Hannah Sinclair.

Joe Asente, who directed, also designed a wonderfully functional gold and white hotel set that could rival any theater of a larger size. Costume design by Ty Hanes was well thought out and executed.

Talent sells this show and makes this production what it is. In the hands of a lesser talented director and cast, this show could easily come off as contrived and lukewarm. From start to finish the show is fast-paced and flies by. So try to keep up. No dull moments or time for an intermission. This area has a wealth of theater talent!

‘It Shoulda Been You” continues April 20, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m.; April 21, 28 at p.m. Hopewell Theatre: 702 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown.

Pictured at top: Natalina Kazimir, Maureen Collins, Roz Blystone and Edward Bazzell in Millennial Theatre Company’s production of “It Shoulda Been You.”

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