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Review - It Shoulda Been You: a smash hit!

By Liv Wilson

It Shoulda Been You

Book and Lyrics Brian Hargrove

Music and Concept Barbara Anselmi

Director Sherryl-Lee Secomb

Musical Director Sally Faint

Choreographer Isabelle Quayle

Assistant Director Hayley Gervais

Sound Design and Operation Jacob Cash

Lighting Design Maddy Bosanko

Costumes Breanna Gear

Phoenix Ensemble

The Tin Shed

Beenleigh Showgrounds

Season runs until November 26. Bookings:

A world where nothing is what it seems, religions collide, Machiavellian plots are revealed, promises are broken, secrets are exposed and hope springs from the most unlikely of places. Anything that could go wrong does go wrong and it’s up to the sister of the bride to turn a tangled mess into happily ever after in this musical comedy for anyone who ever had…parents.

Attention all Brisbane theatre lovers: we have struck gold with Phoenix Ensemble's production of It Shoulda Been You! The entire show was done to perfection and I highly encourage everyone to make the effort to see this before it sells out, it's simply too good to miss!

Director Sherryl-Lee Secomb had the privilege of working with 14 extraordinarily talented performers and a downright hilarious script, every director’s dream! Secomb’s directorial choices in It Shoulda Been You were some of the biggest triumphs on Phoenix Ensemble’s stage all year. The respect for comedic timing and witty interactions between characters was honoured perfectly and amplified by her talented cast. A fantastic job by Sherryl-Lee and Hayley Gervais (Assistant Director).

This cast has a very powerful chemistry that only comes to life when there is a genuine connection between the actors, the story, the creative team and the audience, all of which happened on opening night!

Leading the show was the absolute force of nature, Danika Saal who took her character with two hands and went her hardest. There were a handful of truly special moments that Saal created, one being her performance in Beautiful, where we saw a very raw and heartfelt display of her character’s inner struggle with accepting others' view of her beauty.

The other being the raunchy and self confident rebirth of her character in Jenny’s Blues, Saal had the most charismatic and diverse range of acting and vocals in this number. Danika Saal is a star of the Brisbane theatre scene and her performance in It Shoulda Been You was absolutely Broadway material.

Shane Webb playing ex-boyfriend of the bride-to-be, Marty Kaufman, was a superb casting choice on a number of levels. Webb’s acting and comedic timing was showcased well in this role as well as his unique characterised vocal quality. Webb’s performance was very charismatic and the audience took to his character from the start. Webb and Saal’s on-stage chemistry was beautiful and it displayed an experience that, I believe, acted as the glue for the production.

Vocally the show was nearly note perfect! The ensemble numbers were powerful and rehearsed well and the solos throughout were laced with such enormous characterisation that it was hard to fault any of it! A wonderful job by musical director, Sally Faint.

Grace Clarke and Luke Devine played the almost-happy-couple-to-be. Clarke’s soft and honest performance was endearing and I particularly liked her powerful vocals in the song A Little Bit Less Than, her character’s turning point in the show. Devine played his character very well and lent into the awkwardness of the character perfectly.

What would a show about a wedding be without parents? The casting of the 2 sets of parents was sensational and each of these complex characters were brought to life by equally sensational performers.

Leading the bride’s family was Della Days as Judy Steinberg. Not only did Days capture the “mother-of-the-bride-zilla” essence a little too well, she also nailed the heartfelt moments in Act 2. Days’ performance in Nice was an absolute standout of the evening and summarised the character to a tee!

Playing Judy’s husband was Warryn James who had me in fits of laughter nearly every time he walked out on stage. His comedic timing was flawless and very entertaining. He was particularly good in the number It’s Family.

Playing the groom’s entirely overbearing mother was Miranda Sellwood as Georgette Howard. Selwood pulled off some of the best theatrical moments in the show; I was impressed with her strong vocals in Where Did I Go Wrong which showcased her impeccable comedic timing. Steven Days was unbelievably funny in his role as the groom’s father. He captured the odd and uncomfortable relationship with Devine’s character perfectly and provided some fantastic comic relief in numerous scenes.

Fantastic performances by Ren Gerry (Walt/Uncle Morty), Sarah Engelsmann (Mimsy) and Mary Veitch (Aunt Sheila) who took full reign of the stage in each of their supporting character’s appearances!

My personal favourite performance of the evening was Mark Rickell as Albert the wedding planner. Rickell nailed the deadpan delivery of his lines as he lent into the character’s dry sense of humour. Rickell executed his character’s tight cues and fast paced dialogue with such ease. We got to hear Mark Rickell’s wonderful vocals in Albert’s Turn which ended up being my favourite scene of the entire show! The contrast between Albert and every other character is brilliantly written and was even more of a success by Rickell’s sharp performance.

Rounding out the cast was Chynna Santos and William Chen as Annie and Greg- the two “best friends” of the bride and groom. These roles were full of life, humour and stereotypes which made any scene with the two actors that little bit more entertaining. Chen’s knack for off the cuff humour was showcased nicely in this role and he had some massive vocals in the Act 2 opener. Santos was equally entertaining and did a great job of delivering both the comedic and more vulnerable moments required of her.

After seeing several shows from Phoenix Ensemble, I’ve come to learn they never disappoint and this show is certainly no exception! All Brisbane theatre fiends should make the trip to Beenleigh to see It Shoulda Been You. Between the witty script, the fabulous vocals and the underlying sophistication of the show’s important themes I have no doubt you will enjoy this production as much as I have.

Phoenix Ensemble's season of It Shoulda Been You is running until the 26th November with shows each Friday and Saturday evening. Tickets start at $33 and can be purchased using the link below.


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