PERRY – Heritage Theatre delivers a rockin’ 80’s blast to the past with The Wedding Singer directed by Derek and Breanne Hendricks. With book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, music by Matthew Sklar, and lyrics by Chad Beguelin, the 2006 musical The Wedding Singer is based on the 1998 film of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Although I was excited to see this musical as I have enjoyed the romantic comedy of the film, I came away disappointed in the adaptation of the script and songs of the musical.
Set in New Jersey in 1985, Robbie Hart is the lead singer of a wedding cover band. However, he is left standing at the altar on his own wedding day as his fiancé Linda decides he’s still a nobody who lives in his grandma’s basement. Although Robbie goes through terrible heartbreak and depression, he finds he can love again as he helps a friend, Julia, to plan her own wedding to Glen a rich Wall Street stock trader. Robbie decides to win Julia’s heart and writes her a song as he travels to Las Vegas to stop her before she gets married to the wrong man.
Spencer Stevens played the role of Robbie Hart with awkwardness and cringe-worthy off-key singing. I was unsure if he was singing off-key intentionally to be more like Adam Sandler or not. But the terrible 80’s rock band singing grew tiresome after a while and I was left hoping that he would try to be less awkward and start singing on key. However, Stevens sang much better in “If I Told You” as it was his best song of the night. Ivy Combe was sweet and charming in her role as Julia Sullivan. Her excitement to be married in “Someday” was sweet and her voice was lovely as she sang “Come Out of the Dumpster” even though the lyrics to the song are quite ridiculous.
Robbie’s friends Sammy (Austin Williams) and George (Colby Majors) and Julia’s friend Holly (Holly Lowell) were entertaining as supporting roles and 80’s cliche rockers. Lowell was engaging as she sang “Right In Front of Your Eyes” while Williams played a great slob scratching his bare belly and stood on a chair playing the guitar while a stage technician held a fan to his face making his hair blow behind him. Majors and Bonnie Pyper Raymon (Rosie) rocked the night with a rap in “Move that Thang.”
One of my favorite roles of the night was Linda played by Hannah Smith. Smith rocked the song “A Note from Linda” and had great riffs and technique in “Let Me Come Home.” Smith’s character of Linda was further developed with details in her outfit such as the dark 80’s mullet wig, red leather jacket, and cut-off short jeans. However, I found the lyrics and music of “Let Me Come Home” to be too repetitive and lacking in originality.
The show was accompanied by a live band which was set up on the stage. The band added to the authenticity of the show as there are many scenes where the Wedding Singer performs with the band. Lighting designed by Braden Howard shone many bright colors creating the perfect lighting for the band scenes. The flashing red and blue lights alluded to cop cars on the scene while Robbie was in the dumpster. A few great dance numbers were performed by the whole cast including the opening number “It’s Your Wedding Day.” Choreographers Katie Loftus and Bree and Derek Hendricks also snuck famous dances from the 80’s into the show such as the Thriller moved during “Casualty of Love” and the robot dance moves in “All About the Green.”
Costume designer Leslie Richards completely embraced the feeling of being back in the 80s with many puffed-sleeved and lacy wedding dresses. The 80’s workout outfit of Grandma Rosie was bright, neon, and complete with arm and head warmers. Holly’s big curly hair and fishnet tights along with her neon shirts, jacket vests, and skirts were always on par for great 80’s fashion. George’s eclectic costumes were delightful from his pink shoes to his ruffled cravat shirt and his dotted suit.
Unfortunately, this show is not for everyone. If you love 80s rock music and are a fan Adam Sandler’s style of comedy, you may enjoy this show. Due to adult content and language, this show may not be suitable for all audiences. This isn’t really a show I would bring kids or grandparents to. Although the production of The Wedding Singer is a low-budget performance from a community theatre that struggled with many parts of the show, there were many things I did find enjoyable about it and I commend the actors and production team for all the hard work they have put into the show.