The Wedding Singer
Based on the 1998 Tim Herlihy movie starring Adam Sandler, The Wedding Singer is the story of Robbie Hart (Barry Debois), the front man of a New Jersey-based wedding band. Couples all over Jersey hire Robbie, Sammy (Michael Louis Bernardi), and George (John Wascavage) to ensure their wedded bliss…that is, to play their wedding receptions. But after Robbie is left at the altar by his rocker chick fiancée, Linda (the irrepressibly funny Natalie DePuy), he wonders if he’ll ever be able to get it up for another wedding gig. Julia (Allison Wilkes), a waitress at the Touch of Class catering hall, helps Robbie out of his slump and he starts to fall for her. Too bad she’s already engaged to a philandering financier named Glen Guglia (a well-cast Kevin Paul Smith). Wait…is she really going to become Julia Guglia?!?!
The story is a charming and funny rom-com and many of the best lines from the film are kept for this stage adaptation, which played on Broadway in 2006. It’s great to hear Sklar’s catchy and oh-so-’80s music on stage again. I just wish I could have better understood Beguelin’s lyrics.
None of the actors are miked, which could work in a small space like this, especially with a more orchestral score like Parade. The Wedding Singer has rock/pop sound, however, and many of the actors drown under the synthesizers, drums, and electric guitars. Most notably, the soft-voiced Debois is very hard to hear and that is a bad thing for the band’s lead singer. It’s not that he doesn’t have a good voice. He does! DeBois really soars when it is just him and his acoustic guitar on stage. Anything heavier causes him to fade into the background and he’s not alone.
I had trouble hearing most of the actors at various points in the show. The notable exception is Kristin Piacentile, who plays Julia’s slutty cousin/best friend Holly. I could hear every syllable uttered by this big-voiced diva. Body mics are expensive, so I understand why they might not be an option, but it seems to me that there were cost-effective choices that could have been made to amplify the actors at key moments, especially considering the fact that Robbie spends so much time holding a prop hand microphone.
Many of the choices in this production seem half-considered. Rather than illuminating the story or pushing the showmanship to a new level, much of Turney’s choreography feels like filler, eating up stage time until the dance break in the music ends. This competent cast executes their uninspired choreography and blocking with gusto, but it is not enough to make a memorable production of this show, no matter how much fun the source material is.