VSMT’s “It Shoulda Been You”


Villanova Student Musical Theatre recently put on a production called “It Should’ve Been You”.

Bailey Quinn, Staff Writer

The Smith Lab of Villanova’s John and Joan Mullen Center puts a spotlight on Jenny Steinberg (sophomore Jackie Bubnis). She sings about the woes of weddings and never wanting one, only to have her mother, Judy Steinberg (sophomore Ainsley Williams), interrupt her musings loudly. Villanova Student Musical Theatre’s It Shoulda Been You, directed by senior Aidan Fecko with junior Musical Director Minh-chau Scott and freshman Stage Manager Calum Huang, was a sold-out show these past two weekends. We follow Jenny as the co-maid of honor in her sister’s wedding. The bride, Rebecca Steinberg (senior Kiana Carbone) is jittery, especially in the presence of her mother, Judy. However, her sister Jenny is an unwavering source of support. 

Jenny makes a mistake when she accidentally calls her sister’s ex-boyfriend and her own ex-childhood best friend, Marty Kaufman (junior Patrick Calhoun). Calhoun’s character is ecstatic upon hearing his ex-girlfriend is getting married, ecstatic, that is, to crash the wedding and prevent them from making it down the aisle, let alone to their first dance. However, he is not alone on this mission to stop the wedding, once he arrives, the Steinberg family welcomes him.

The Howard family feels the same way as the Steinbergs, and they too are making moves to prevent Rebecca from marrying their son. Georgette Howard (junior Olivia Pistella), is a vision in pink and her sickly-sweet composure proves to be near-lethal in social circumstances, yet it does nothing to sugarcoat her distaste for no longer being the only woman in her son’s life. 

“In four years of VSMT shows, I think that It Shoulda Been You has been the absolute most fun show to perform and rehearse,” Pistella said. “Through Aidan’s fantastic direction, the cast has been able to bring these characters to life in a show full of twists and turns with a happy ending for everyone.” 

Pistella does a stellar job grounding herself in her character, as she is a constant showstopper, and her cutting remarks are a spoonful of sugar laced with emotional arsenic that knocks even her husband to the ground when in a disagreement.

Meanwhile the groom, Brian Howard (freshman Jeremiah Mathews) tap-dances with his father, George Howard (freshman Joey Klieman), as they navigate emotionality in masculine relationships, only to find out that his father wants him to give his future wife a prenuptial agreement to sign. 

Klieman and Pistella prove to be a hilarious couple, coyly trying to maneuver their way to their own version of a happy ending. However the Steinbergs, primarily Judy with the (slightly reluctant but nevertheless doting) support of her quieter husband, Murray Steinberg (Mike Ferlisi) are keen on blunt honesty. Williams steals every scene she enters, her character Judy casting snarky remarks she thinks are refreshing and kind, but are in fact insulting, leaving her audience guffawing, eagerly waiting for the next time she callously inhales a breath to begin again. 

We see the two mothers face off as they get their hair done for the wedding, and they share snipes about one another’s families, religions, and physical appearances. Their stark repulsion from one another is even represented in their costumes, with Pistella in warm tones and Williams in cool tones for the entirety of the show (a choice masterfully made among many other brilliant decisions by co-costumers Abigail Maroun and Madeleine Brooks).

When the prenuptial agreement news is dropped by none other than Marty, it appears, for a moment, that the wedding is truly doomed. However, Albert the wedding planner (Lily Panunto) swoops in as a self-ordained “Nuptial Houdini,” backed by the vocals of his two assistants, Walt (Wilcox) and Mimsy (senior Jess Cherubino), and reminds Jenny that prenuptial agreements before weddings in New York state are not legally binding. This news sends Jenny running after her sister, and ultimately getting her down the aisle.

As we cut to the newlyweds and their loved ones  dance in and out on the left side of the scene with mixed reactions, and Jenny lingers the most in the shadows, insisting she has never dreamed of having a happily ever after such as her sister’s; and all the while we watch our newly-weds get interrupted by their friends, co-maid of honor Annie Shepard (freshman Madison Romano) and best man Greg Madison (freshman Ethan McGrath) with a bottle of champagne. We watch with increasing tension as the Carbone and Mathew’s characters whisper and worry about getting caught, but it is not until the newly-weds part ways and join hands with their respective member of their wedding party that we realize that the bride and groom are, in fact, gay.

Annie and Greg are masters of subtlety, and declare that they are going to sing for the newlyweds during the reception. What ensues is a cringe-worthy and extremely obvious confession of love to their partners that causes waves of discomfort. Rebecca pleads with Jenny to understand, only for her sister to stalk out of the room, feeling hurt that Rebecca did not trust her enough to share her secret. Consequently, Jenny breaks into song, deciding in a whirlwind of feminine rage. 

Jenny runs into Marty and kisses him. Jenny hides, and Marty runs after her, and reveals he never loved her sister, and he was coming to the wedding to stop her from getting married. While they express their feelings for one another and kiss once more and then leave to stop Rebecca from coming out to her family, this exposure of Rebecca’s sexuality was overheard by drunk Aunt Sheila (Cherubino) and one of the wedding staff, Walt (Wilcox), who was cornered by the intoxicated relative. 

“The talent [on] display is something else,” Wilcox said. “Everyone brings something unique to the table, which lifts the whose cast’s performance to a new level.”

After Aunt Sheila stalks in and announces that Rebecca is gay. Rebecca confesses this to be true. What ensues is a revelation involving an accidental pregnancy between the bride and groom, a marriage based on an economic proposition to gain access to the Howard inheritance, and a wedding multiplied by three, including the two queer couples and now Marty and Jenny. 

While the last couple goes back and forth about getting married, with Jenny especially worried, Judy has a shining moment of empathy and vulnerability, using her brutal honesty for good. Judy comforts her daughter, and you can feel a sigh of relief radiate from the enamored audience when Jenny takes Marty’s hand and runs to get fitted into a wedding dress, of which Albert has somehow foreseen the need. 

“It’s always so much fun getting to perform different characters with your best friends, but it makes it even more fun when the theme is something so real, like in this show,” Fecko said.. “In directing this show, I really tried to have the performers try to find something that they related to. The characters that shape this story are based on such authentic experiences, and it was my goal to have the performers relate to this story on a personal level so that we could bring this show to life, and have so much fun doing it.”