"There's comedy and drama at a wedding. I've never been to a wedding that didn't have equal amounts of both," Montego Glover said.
Glover plays Annie Shepard, the co-maid of honor and best friend of the bride in It Shoulda Been You, the new musical comedy in previews on Broadway. As the co-head of the bridal party, Glover's character has a great deal of responsibility placed upon her — and that's before the wedding even begins.
"You need all the help you can get," she said, laughing. "Annie has her work cut out for her. You've got to have your gear: Your tape, your pencils, your buttons, your pins. Then you've got to be able to talk a bride down from the ledge or run and go get an extra bottle of champagne. Running in heels — that's the most important thing."
Unexpected disasters at weddings are nothing new to the cast of It Shoulda Been You, which follows the members of the Steinberg and Howard clan as Rebecca Steinberg and Brian Howard prepare to wed. Contrasting religious beliefs, clashing egos and scheming in-laws are just a few of the pratfalls that take place throughout the day, and the actors in the musical shared their own experiences at weddings, whether they were at the altar or in the congregation.
Glover saw the bride at one wedding take a fall, but the wedding still went on. "A bride running to make it to the altar on time tripped and fell face-first into mud in her wedding gown," Glover said. "The wedding went on. I had never heard the record scratch, the train stop, the brakes go on to an event."
Chip Zien, who plays Murray Steinberg, the father of the bride, recalled an unexpected mishap that took place at his own wedding. "I ran out of money at mine. I overdrank. I started tipping people — waiters, everybody. When it came time to settle up, I had to borrow money from my guests," he said. "Doesn't everybody have that experience?"
Another experience many can relate to happened to Mitchell Greenberg, who remembered a perceived slight. "There is a family story of Cousin Joan who was sat at the kids' table and never got over it," he said, adding, "It causes great agony in the family."
David Burtka, who plays the groom, Brian Howard, said he was very happy with his own wedding, but he recalled working as a waiter, when "I turned around and in the corner is the bride throwing up all over her dress. It was horrible. It was awful. It was beyond awful. It was probably the worst story I've ever had."
With eight Broadway credits under her belt, Harriet Harris has not attended a great deal of weddings due to performing onstage frequently, but she said she appreciates the pressure the bridal party feels. "As an actor I kind of feel like you've got to be careful what you do in front of everybody. You rehearse it and you perfect it before you go out. At a wedding, it has to be perfect. It's like everybody you care about is watching this. People think, 'I was blessed to be there that day.' I've been to a couple of weddings where I've thought, 'This is one of the very lovely days of my life that I get to be here with these people.' But then again, if a fistfight breaks out…."
Tony Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce is making his Broadway directing debut with It Shoulda Been You. And, for the cast, he may prove to be a good luck charm; he has never witnessed a disaster take place at a wedding. "Apparently all the weddings I've been to have worked. They've all been good," Pierce said. "People were happy. No one fell into a pond or anything. I have good wedding stories. Maybe it's me."