The Wedding Singer
1st November 2019
The Izzard Theatre, Bexhill
Type of Production
Lee Lyons Asst Director Henri Hayloer
Author: Anne Lawson
An upbeat musical comedy based on the classic 1997 film, the book written by Tim Herlihy and Chad Beguelin with music by Matthew Sklar. Picture yourself in the USA at any wedding when you meet an array of characters and ages, mis-matches, include a dedicated wedding entertainment band, a broken heart, misunderstanding and a happy ending finale, add a few tears together with much humour and you’ve got a great show.
Robbie Hart, our hero, a wedding singer, resides with his Grandma in Ridgefield New Jersey. During the warm-up at a wedding gig he announces that the very next day he’s to marry fiancée Linda. Meanwhile, he meets waitress Julia Sullivan, who’s dying to marry and helps him to write a corny love song and makes him promise to sing at her wedding. However, on the wedding day Robbie is dumped by note! Meanwhile Wall Street Boyfriend Glen Guglia pops the question to Julia, Robbie now much depressed is being persuaded to get out of the ‘dumpster’ and to change his gigs to Bar Mitzvahs rather than weddings. Julia’s cousin, fun loving Holly, suggests Julia practice her wedding kissing technique which she tries out with Robbie and is taken by surprise! Later at a nightclub Sammy and George, Robbie and Holly realise Glen is a cheat and Julie is just marrying for money and security. To impress, Robbie applies for a job in Wall St. Holly and Sammy get together after she initially gave him the cold shoulder. Still unable to make Julia change her mind she tries on her wedding frock and still having Glen doubts, she imagines being Robbie’s wife. At Glen’s bachelor party a fight ensues Robbie gets knocked out and Glen fires him. Back home at Granny’s drunk, he finds Linda the psycho in his bed! Next day Julia arrives to explain her feelings to be confronted by Linda, prompting her to elope to Vegas with cheating Glen. Robbie finds out from Holly, flies off and with the help of a group of impersonators crash the Vegas wedding. Glen is outraged, the impersonators beat him up, Robbie proposes to Julia, she accepts only if he’ll sing at her wedding!
With space limitations, simplified staging was appropriate with the live band hidden centrally behind a gauze and partitioning blacks either side of a very useful step tower giving height interest – and a small central plinth for the players, plus keyboard. Additions of guest tables and chairs decorated with themed colours, clothes, balloons etc. plus the tiered wedding cakes, creating the reception scenes' props. Robbie’s room was set with bed and back wall decor and was manoeuvred pretty well, although sometimes in ‘light’. I think side and backstage are quite tight, so well done to the cast for their swift entrances and exits. The location scenes were back-projected by ‘Fuzzy Duck Creative’ providing a most professional appearance. The technical side was well managed with interesting lighting design and effects. Sound was good with the first-class band but at times, for my ear, rather too loud. The costume design by Sam Lewis and Sophia Lefevre created some outrageous characters. Hairdo’s were great and such fun and those wigs perfect.
The hero was Robbie Hart and Chris Packham most certainly created a perfect loveable cheeky character in both acting and singing. His two band members were Boy George lookalike played by Leigh Doherty really camp and first timer Damon Miller plus his musical tie around his head the guitarist Sammy. Daisy Estall paired with Robbie perfectly, and gave a polished performance and supported by her mates Holly, Abigaile Doherty and Angie performed by Claire Hughes. Glen was smoothly performed by Charlie Abrahams. Leather-clad Linda the ‘psycho’ was sexily played by Bobbi Sutton and the real character of the show must be Jessica Wellard’s wonderful groovy Granny Rosie. With Judy Gilham’s guidance, solos, duets and chorus singing were varied in style and well put over. The ‘aah’ factor little ones were delightful. The many named characters were interpreted both in persona and costume. With the dedicated, creative production team this was a fun, pleasantly surprising experience.