The Wedding Singer - Musical ☆☆☆3
Showing from - Wednesday, October 26, 2016 through till Saturday, October 29, 2016
Duchess Theatre - Long Eaton
Kathryn McAuley | Wednesday, October 26, 2016
If you’re expecting a stage version of the iconic 1998 film The Wedding Singer, you may be disappointed with this production, but if you’re looking for a homage to the 1980s and to re-live the good-times (and some of the bad hair-dos) then this show delivers in spades.
Robbie Hart, New Jersey’s favourite wedding singer, is jilted at his own wedding and is forced to re-assess the meaning of love and marriage. The cast were clearly loving every one of their many costume changes and performed every chorus number with huge enthusiasm and energyJulia, a waitress at one of his venues, is there to help and support, and so the simple rom-com storyline plays out. These lead roles were performed beautifully: Chris Bryan as Robbie was warm and sensitive and perfectly at home singing with his guitar in hand, a singer-songwriter style that was very easy to listen to but also rocking out when required. Claire Rybicki as Julia brought a lot of quirky charm that allowed us to immediately warm to her and gave a polished and consistent performance. The various harmonic duets with Robbie were very effective, and Claire’s clear and pitch-perfect tones brought life to Julia’s songs.
However, this quiet romantic story-line is rather over-shadowed by the sheer colour and volume of costumes, scene changes, and different musical genres being packed into one show. The cast were clearly loving every one of their many costume changes and performed every chorus number with huge enthusiasm and energy. The choreography was stylish and impactful, particularly in the larger numbers, with ‘Casualty of Love’ a highlight – some great, and grotesque – characters that made me laugh out loud. ‘All About the Green’ was another number that made the most of 1980s references, with Rob Charles as Glen Gulia creating a believable, brash ‘Wall Street’ trader type.
Many of the characters in the show are larger than life, none more so than Rosie, the lascivious, rapping Grandma, played with astonishing aplomb by Mina Machin. Robbie’s fellow band-mates, Sammy and George, played by Rob Holsman and David Hurt respectively, inhabited their rock and roll characters right down to their slouchy demeanour and casual swagger. Holly, Julia’s more raucous side-kick, was performed with great gusto and pizzazz by Zoe Brinklow, another strong singing voice belting out some rousing numbers. I take my hat off to Abbey Riddell, who as Linda, had to perform some very ‘in your face’ numbers and carried it off with confidence. With great mini-cameos of Billy Idol, Tina Turner and Cyndi Lauper, to name just a few, the show certainly aims a nod to the most iconic 1980s people and places.
The band, under Nathan Truesdale, had a very difficult job with so many different changes of style, pace and underscoring but performed it extremely well and with great enthusiasm – an opportunity to indulge in some proper rock rhythms not always afforded a musical theatre band! The lib was occasionally lost but not due to the band being too loud, rather I think it was first-night sound balance issue.
The set looked simple but was cleverly constructed so that with a twist or a turn it could transform into another scene and with so many small and quick scene changes, this was a good ploy. Considering both a car and a plane appear on stage through the show, you can well imagine how crowded it was in the wings, so stage management are to be applauded for creating almost seamless action.
A production fizzing with one-liners, familiar beats, cultural references and bursting with colour and energy, The Wedding Singer may not be the most profound show in town but it’ll certainly give you a good night’s entertainment and plenty to reminisce about.
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