Dysfunctional meets charming: Circle Theatre presents “It Shoulda Been You”


Story by America DeGraw, Reporter
Photo courtesy Circle Theatre

Circle Theatre’s small stage in the round presents the perfect atmosphere to experience the raucous Steinberg wedding in “It Shoulda Been You.” The nature of the theater means that you are experiencing every moment and emotion right along with the actors. Of course, you may not think of them as actors; the joy of this side-splitting musical is that all of the characters are images of people you may know.

Jenny, the bride’s sister, described by actress Emily Diener as “devoted, overlooked, and romantic,” brings together the cast made up of her family, the bridal party, and the groom’s parents. This show marks number four for Ms. Diener at Circle, and her second this season, having starred as Morticia Addams earlier this year in “The Addams Family.” Her portrayal of Jenny is spirited and soulful. Ms. Diener describes the show as “very traditional, but also contemporary,” and says that the characters are “well developed for a 90 minute show, [they are] hyper versions of real family members.”

The bride’s mother is charmingly abrasive and fiercely protective of her family. Her father is lovingly clueless of most of the goings on, but cares deeply about the well-being of his two daughters. He doesn’t seem to favor one over the other; a bold opposition to their mother, who praises the bride with blind affection and criticizes every move of the devoted Jenny.

The bride, Rebecca, played by Aquinas’s own Dara Kammeraad, is sweet, everything her mother ever hoped for and full of fun facial expressions that bring her emotions to life. The groom, Brian, is affectionate, devoted to Rebecca and a momma’s boy. The bridal party, made up of the best friends of the bride and groom, are raunchy and hilarious. The groom’s parents, in contrast to the bride’s traditional Jewish family, are New York society elite. The mother is crude and not so subtly snarky to her future in-laws. Brian’s father will follow his wife’s lead blindly, even if it gets him in trouble.

Of course, we cannot forget the flamboyant and fabulous wedding planner Alfred; he is the glue holding what could become a disastrous wedding together. The outsider is Marty, Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend who has shown up to stop the wedding. He is goofy, determined, and exactly what Mr and Mrs Steinberg had in mind for their son-in-law. Joining the cast intermittently is Aunt Sheila, who is described by actress Kallie Piette as “tipsy, jealous and cruel,” and the forgetful Uncle Morty.

The excellent vocals provided by the cast are offset by a phenomenal full orchestra. Mixed to perfection by Sound Technician Selene Rezmer, the orchestra plays contemporary music that is intertwined with traditional Jewish melodies. The show is co-stage managed by husband/wife duo Kieran and Jen Smith who have been working with Circle Theatre for 16 years. They estimate that they’ve done about 50 shows with the establishment. They run a tight ship, keeping everyone in line, on cue and ready for any circumstance.

The set is a minimalistic take on a hotel wedding venue, with a balcony above, a pair of double doors below and two smaller doors to either side, as well as two staircases leading to the balcony area. The simple nature of the set plays well against the eccentric, dysfunctional and vibrant cast who make the world come to life.

“It Shoulda Been You” runs through September 23rd, and tickets are $10 for students here at Aquinas, thanks to Circle’s partnership with our theater department. You should definitely go and see this one, and my advice to you? Expect the unexpected! Anything can and will happen when the Steinbergs throw a party!

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