Written by Chad Beguelin & Tim Herlihy
Music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Directed & choreographed by Tim French
Musical direction by Anthony Bastianon
Performed by Matthew Campbell, Erica Peck et al
Stage West, Mississauga
April 22 to July 4, 2010
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
Always a bridesmaid, finally a bride
Based on the 1998 Adam Sandler movie, The Wedding Singer has been revised as a musical comedy for live theatre. Robbie Heart tries to make a living singing at wedding receptions, along with his friends George and Sammy. He’s a true romantic, engaged to Linda who leaves him at the alter. So he becomes very cynical and depressed, making inappropriate speeches at weddings. Eventually, he realizes he’s in love with Julia, a waitress who regularly serves at wedding receptions. Unfortunately, she’s engaged to Wall Street businessman Glen.
The story is appealing, and the songs written especially for show have hilarious lyrics. Comedy is created by making fun of eighties fashion and lifestyle. When Glen brags about his new cellular phone, he lifts the heavy battery pack, attached by a cord to a huge phone.
Matthew Campbell plays Robbie, a sweet, romantic soul who really enjoys being a part of the happy couple’s wedding day. Erica Peck is the kind and gentle Julia, who longs to be married. Peck was the lead in We Will Rock You, and again shows her strength in handling the vocals.
Karen Wood is hilarious as Grandma Rose, and Andrew McGillivray is the audience favourite providing laughs as George, the gay keyboard player. Rachel Fischer is very entertaining as Julia’s cousin Holly. Kraig Waye is good as Sammy, also in the band, and Sean Andrews plays a rather nasty Glen. Kristen Peace gives a powerful portrayal of Linda, who dumps Robbie.
The 12 members of the ensemble are excellent singers and lively dancers. With a variety of colourful costumes and many wig changes, they all handle many roles. The clothes and hair-dos are authentic eighties styles – lots of well-padded big shoulders and big hair.
In the end, the action moves to Las Vegas, where a myriad of impersonators reminds us of who was making the news in the eighties: in a cleverly written scene we find none other than Ronald Reagan, Imelda Marcos, Tina Turner, Billy Idol, Cindy Lauper, and Mr. T.
It’s an entertaining show, well cast with energetic performers. Stage West is a dinner theatre and features buffet dinners before each performance – we enjoyed the Sunday brunch.
Like Rock of Ages, which opened recently in Toronto, The Wedding Singer mocks all things eighties. While Rock of Ages uses actual 1980s rock music, The Wedding Singer has eighties-like songs written for the show. Both are light-hearted love stories, with laughs along the way.
The Wedding Singer continues in dinner theatre at Stage West, Mississauga until July 4. For tickets, including dinner or Sunday brunch, and hotel room packages, contact 1-800-263-0684 or www.stagewest.com