A wedding and chaos behind the scenes? A musical at Village Theatre

Mar 12, 2012

"It Shoulda Been You," the new musical at Issaquah’s Village Theater, is for anyone who has been part of a wedding. There's joy as well as bickering; second-guessing and sometimes, suffering.

The bride’s Jewish. The groom’s Catholic. The parents don’t like each other and wish their children were marrying someone else. And an ex-boyfriend also shows up.

The musical is the first collaboration by composer Barbara Anselmi and lyricist and librettist Brian Hargrove.

The musical is the latest show to have been workshopped at the theater and turned into a full production. It premiered last year at the George Street Playhouse in Brunswick, N.J. where it was directed by David Hyde Pierce (the actor who played Niles in the TV show "Frasier." Pierce is married to Hargrove).

For the Issaquah, and later, the shows in Everett, Jon Kretzu is directing.

Anselmi, the composer, was studying songwriting at BMI in New York when she needed to come up with a project. She had been to three weddings in a row. She figured a wedding could be musical theater fodder.

"The thing about a wedding is that’s it's an incredibly heightened experience," she said.

"I’ve never been though a wedding but boy, I know what happens. And I know the fighting and the backstabbing that can sometimes happen. I know there are weddings that go off great but in my life I tend to hear more of the drama."

Anselmi fell in love with musical theater when she was 5, after her mom took her to see "1776" and there was a huge opening number...and then tons of dialogue.

"My mother told me I fell asleep during the (talking) scenes. Then at intermission I got up and ran to the (orchestra) pit and she couldn’t get me away."

She begged her mother for a piano as well as a puppy. She got both but she got the piano first.

Anselmi worked with her classmates and left school with 17 songs all told from the perspective of people involved in a wedding. Then she needed a story for the songs to hang on, which is where Hargrove comes in.

"We're starting basically with a fairly clichéd situation. No one’s happy about the wedding. This could be right out of 'Abie's Irish Rose,' hich is a play done in the '50s about a Jewish-Catholic person (sic) getting together. And so I was hoping to take these clichés and turn them."

The central character is neither the bride nor the groom but the bride's older sister, Jenny, who is beginning to think she'll be single forever.

There's a huge plot twist that leaves Jenny feeling betrayed. There are also scenes in which the sanctity of a beauty salon gets violated with "fake" sincerity. And a love song is sung through a bathroom stall.

"Trust is always funny and this is a very truthful musical," Hargrove said.

The show opens Thursday at Village Theater in Issaquah, where it plays through April 22 and then moves to Everett, where it runs through May 20.