Millennial Theatre’s ‘Shoulda’ couldn’t-a been more entertaining

Superb talent permeates musical at Hopewell Theatre

YOUNGSTOWN — It’s hard to take notes in the dark, and even harder to decipher them later.

At this point, I mostly just put an asterisk next to a standout musical number (and maybe a word to help trigger the memory of why I did it) and a similar marking by the name of an actor who gave a stellar performance.

If I’d marked every great number or memorable performance that way on my program for Millennial Theatre Company’s production of “It Shoulda Been You,” it would have looked like the largest constellation on the clearest night of the year.

“It Shoulda Been You” is a crowd pleaser of a musical, and MTC had the compact stage at Hopewell Theatre overflowing with talent on Friday.

The Barbara Anselmi-Brian Hargrove musical had a short run on Broadway in 2015, but at least parts of the show — which revolves around the wedding day clashes, disasters and surprises between the families of a Jewish bride and her Catholic groom — feel like something out of a musical at least a half century older. It’s the kind of theater John Kenley would have booked every other year for Kenley Players back in the ’60s and ’70s. Other parts have a more contemporary twist (and what a twist it is).

Instead of holding auditions, Director Joe Asente approached the actors he wanted for each character. He had impeccable taste, and he created a space where they could show it off to the best of their abilities.

The show runs about 100 minutes without intermission, and it never stops moving. A few pieces of adaptable furniture are whisked on and off the stage briskly by the actors as the setting shifts from different spaces in the upscale hotel hosting the nuptials.

There isn’t a weak link in the 14-person cast, and all but a couple of them get a big vocal number to showcase their voices.

“Shoulda” is a wedding where the maid of honor upstages the bride Rebecca (Natalina Kazimir). That’s by design. Jenny (Colleen Chance), the put-upon older sister of the bride, has to try to keep the wedding on track while trying to ignore the withering barbs about her weight casually tossed off by her mother Judy (Maureen Collins).

She has the best songs in the show and the best character arc, and Chance owns the role. Her vocals on “Jenny’s Blues” are stupendous, and it’s a bravura performance.

Nate Beagle also stands out in a cast of stars as Marty Kaufman, Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend who shows up uninvited to stop the wedding. From his memorable entrance to his impeccable comedic timing to his duets with Chance on “Who” and “”Whatever,” Beagle nails every element of the character.

As good as all the vocals are in the show — and musical director Tyler Stouffer has both the solos and the group numbers soaring and the band conducted by Jack Ciarniello provided strong accompaniment — the cast’s comedic chops may be superior.

Collins is hilarious as the mother, particularly when expressing her disdain for the mother of the groom, played by Roz Blystone, who matches her barb for barb. Vocally, Collins delivers on “Nice” and especially “What They Never Tell You.”

Terry Shears as the father of the bride takes a more low-key approach when dealing with his wife but is no less funny. The groom (Edward Bazzell) and his father (Andy Scott) turn the dance number “Back in the Day” (choreographed by Daniell Mentzer) into a giggle-filled gem.

Ty Hanes as the best man has a knack for getting maximum laughter out of any line he’s given, and his duet with the co-maid of honor (Sierra Ellis) on “Love You Till the Day” was on point vocally as well.

Adam Dominick as the always-one-step-ahead wedding planner, Ben Doss and Hannah Sinclair as his assistants and PK Lankford as a lascivious aunt all added to the caliber of the production.

Hanes did double duty as costume designer, and the gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses and tuxes conveyed the look of an upscale wedding. Asente’s handling of the production, lighting and scenic design displayed the same skill as his work with the cast.

Opening weekend sold out in advance, and there’s no way the second weekend won’t follow. Hopefully, they can add to the run, or “It Shoulda Been You” is going to leave a lot of folks saying, “I shoulda bought tickets earlier.”

If you go . . .

WHAT: Millennial Theatre Company – “It Shoulda Been You”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Hopewell Theatre,

702 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $25 and are available online at millennial


Have an interesting entertainment story? Email entertainment editor Andy Gray at agray@tribtoday.com


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