Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
The Wedding Singer
Stanford Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale in association with NETworks Presentations LLC is presenting the musical The Wedding Singer at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Based on the 1998 New Line Cinema film of the same title starring Adam Sandler, The Wedding Singer has been dubbed "one big party."
With the help of composer Matthew Sklar and co-writer/lyricist Chad Beguelin, Tim Herlihy has cleverly adapted his book for the film into an entertaining stage musical. In 2006 The Wedding Singer received five Tony Award nominations and eight Drama Desk Award nominations.
Meet Robbie Hart, the wedding singer. He's just a regular guy, living in his grandmother Rosie's basement and singing in a mediocre cover band that plays wedding receptions and bar mitzvahs with his two best friends Sammy and George. Robbie is engaged to his high school sweetheart Linda, when he meets a waitress named Julia at the banquet hall where his band plays wedding gigs. Julia is engaged to Glenn, a wealthy junk bond dealer with a penchant for dressing like "Miami Vice"'s Don Johnson. Robbie finds Julia to be a breath of fresh air, and they quickly form a friendship as they share stories of their impending weddings.
Robbie is devastated when Linda leaves him at the altar. He sinks into a depression and quits the band. Sammy, George and Julia convince him to return to singing, and on the way he finds his feelings for Julia growing. He fears revealing his feelings as he just wants her to be happy, and feels Glenn can give her more. He even agrees to sing at her wedding reception. His conflict is brought to a head when Linda suddenly reappears and wants him back, and he discovers Glenn to be a philandering egomaniac undeserving of Julia's trust and love.
The great choreography, clothing, hair styles and decor for this show are all straight out of the 1980s. Though not the standard musical theatre fare, they effectively create a genuine blast from the past. Great detail has been paid to the pop music, electronic gadgets and fashions of the time to create a humorous retro charm for the story. In this respect, the 1985 setting of script is entertainingly well maintained.
Andrea Andert as Linda is the epitome of the sexy, hard-edged rocker chick in a song choreographed like an MTV video, "Let Me Come Home." Penny Larsen is cuddly as Robbie's rapping Grandma Rosie in "Move That Thang." Justin Jutras and Sarah Peak turn in solid performances as Sammy and Holly. Mark Raumaker is appropriately handsome but smarmy as Glenn. An audience favorite was John Jacob Lee as Robbie's friend and Boy George wanna-be, George. His colorful portrayal is filled with great energy and joy.
Erin Elizabeth Coors as Julia and Merritt David Janes as Robbie are both talented but a trifle bland. The inherent difficulty with their roles is that they are playing two characters who are so average. They are asked to be the leads and yet not shine too brightly. They do find an endearing everyman quality in their performances, and get their best chance to fully share their singing and acting ability in the duet "If I Told You."
If you enjoy the film The Wedding Singer, you will enjoy this stage production, as it admirably sticks to the original. It can make no claims as a musical of any real depth or substance, however. Indeed, aside from the melody to "It's Your Wedding Day," the tunes to the original songs are unmemorable. But the fun dancing, costumes and 1985 theme of the show provide for a relaxing good time.
In addition to co-writing the book for The Wedding Singer, Tim Herlihy has written or co-written the films Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds. From 1994 to 1999 he also served as a writer, head writer, and producer of the television variety series "Saturday Night, Live," for which he received an Emmy nomination.
Chad Beguelin, lyricist and co-author of the book for The Wedding Singer, also wrote the book and lyrics for the musicals The Rhythm Club and Wicked City. Beguelin wrote the book for Disney's stage version of Aladdin and is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Award and the Edward Kleban Award for Outstanding Lyric Writing.
The Wedding Singer appeared October 3, 2007 - October 14, 2007 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is located at 201 SW 5th Ave., in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For information on the Broward Center for the Performing Arts season you may contact them by phone at 954-462-0222 or online at www.browardcenter.org. For information on the Broadway Across America Series you may contact them by phone at 1-800-647-6877 or on line at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.