The Wedding Singer
(Based on the New Line Cinema Film, written by Tim Herlihy)
Al Hirschfeld Theatre
302 West 45th Street
Starring: Stephen Lynch, Laura Benanti,
Richard H. Blake, Kevin Cahoon, Felicia Finley
Tina Maddigan, Matthew Saldivar,
Amy Spanger, Rita Gardner,
And an Ensemble of Dancers/Singers/Actors
Directed by John Rando
Choreography by Rob Ashford
Music by Matthew Sklar
Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy
Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Gregory Gale
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski
Hair Design: David Brian Brown
Make-Up Design: Joe Dulude II
Orchestrations: Irwin Fisch
Dance Music Arrangements: Zane Mark
Incidental and Dance Music Arranger: David Chase
Music Director/Conductor: James Sampliner
Executive Producer: Mark Kaufman
Casting: Bernard Telsey Casting
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
Associate Choreographer: Joann M. Hunter
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Marketing: The Araca Group
General Management: The Charlotte Wilcox Company
Production Stage Manager: Rolt Smith
Press: Richard Kornberg/Don Summa
Producers: Paul Libin, Jack Viertel, Margo Lion, New Line Cinema,
The Araca Group, Roy Furman, Douglas L. Meyer,
James D. Stern, Rick Steiner, The Station Bell Osher Mayerson Group,
Jam Theatricals, Jujamcyn Theaters, Jay Furman, Michael Gill,
Dr. Lawrence Horowitz, Rhoda Mayerson, Marisa Sechrest, Gary Winnick, Dancap Productions, Inc., Elan V. McAllister, Allan S. Gordon, Adam Epstein
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 25, 2006
With pulsating, glitzy 80’s disco (Who remembers the Palladium?), The Wedding Singer re-creates the New Line Cinema Film, starring ditsy comedian, Adam Sandler. This is a show for a night with family (older kids) and friends, when you just want to be entertained wildly and root for the love-struck stars, even though you know, in advance, that somehow, all will end well. Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy (book and lyrics) and Matthew Sklar (music) have brought film to stage, and, judging by the vocal and packed audience, this show has a bright future. In fact, it could attain the cult/touring status of Mamma Mia, with its high tech, fast-paced, heavily-miked production. The entire cast is in great shape, aerobically energized, and ready to sing, dance, cartwheel, split, jump, and even play a mean guitar.
Stephen Lynch as the Ridgefield, NJ, Wedding Singer, Robbie Hart, opening the show, is engaged and plays his 80’s disco band (with long-haired, Matthew Saldivar, as Sammy and longer-haired, Kevin Cahoon, as the very out-of-the-closet George) mostly at local weddings. A later, hilarious scene, with the band at a Bar Mitzvah, brings the house down. As it happens, Robbie is stood up at the alter, at his own wedding, and his very trashy fiancée, Linda (Felicia Finley), leggy, blond, and dressed like a hooker (in fact some of the fashion style might be termed “street” wear), and, as it happens, the deliriously depressed Robbie is comforted by two “classy” women, his grandmother, Rosie (Rita Gardner, the “original Girl in The Fantasticks”), and Julia Sullivan (Laura Benanti), an ingénue waitress in a purple skirt.
Here’s where the light plot thickens a bit. Julia is engaged to a slick, rich, self-absorbed, junk bonds guy, Glen Guglia (Richard H. Blake), and an office song/dance scene, “All about the Green”, with grey-suited dancers, adds that feeling of “swell”. Glen drives a fancy car on and offstage, has slick hair, struts like a guy, who’s on top of his game, and brags about his late-night conquests. Clearly the audience roots for Julia to drop the notion of becoming Mrs. Julia Guglia, in case they weren’t rooting already. Julia’s confidante, who also eyes the suddenly single Robbie, is the stylized and sexy Holly (Amy Spanger), who closes the first act with a scene, reminiscent of the falling water in Bombay Dreams, and has one more wild moment with a burst of “steam heat”. A steamy moment, by all definitions.
One over-the-top scene follows another, and we find ourselves at weddings (“Casualty of Love”), next to a dumpster (“Come Out of the Dumpster”), a Bar Mitzvah (“Today You Are a Man”), a Ridgefield, NJ mall (“Not that Kind of Thing”), a NYC disco club (“Saturday Night in the City”), Glen’s office (“All about the Green”), Julia’s bedroom, followed by Robbie’s bedroom, a Las Vegas wedding chapel (“Grow Old with You”), and finally, you guess.
The Las Vegas wedding chapel contains totally outsized humor, costumes, fantasy, makeup, hair, politics, showbiz, and more. Glen has chosen the White House Wedding Chapel to try to seal the deal with the conflicted Julia (It’s the old – Should I go for money and security or old-fashioned romance?), and the Chaplain is a Ronald Reagan impersonator, with witnesses impersonating Imelda Marcos, Tina Turner, and more, all very 80’s and all very campy. Joe Dulude II, in make-up, David Brian Brown, in hair design, Gregory Gale, in costume design, and Scott Pask, in scenic design, worked over-time on this scene.
Matthew Sklar’s music may not endlessly repeat in your head, once you leave the theater, but, during the performance, it’s just perfectly melodic and dynamic. Rob Ashford’s choreography, under John Rando’s direction, creates solo and chorus visuals, reminiscent of 80’s disco, but contemporary in lifts, ensemble work, and very vivacious stage presence. But, it is the genuinely passionate acting that keeps the momentum riveting and engaging. Matthew Saldivar and Kevin Cahoon, as the band friends, are so in character that their long hair and tight pants, boots and guitars, and blue collar lingo, seem ingrained in their personas. Amy Spanger, as the racy, raucous Holly, seems to have as much fun as she creates. Felicia Finley, as the trouble-making Linda, seizes the stage with the ferocity of a lioness. Richard H. Blake, as the swaggering Glen Guglia, shows so little jealousy that he presents a man using his “girl” for status and show.
Rita Gardner, Rosie, the grandmother, has a show-stopping scene with rollicking acrobatics, and you know this actress is ageless. Laura Benanti, Julia Sullivan, shifts between worlds, her culture and her heart. Stephen Lynch, Robbie the Wedding Singer, has been nominated for a Tony Award (He has that adorable, “kiss-me” affectation that adds to his great vocals and magnetic role), as has Rob Ashford, choreographer, Chad Beguelin, Tim Herlihy, and Matthew Sklar for book and score, and The Wedding Singer, the musical, has been nominated for Best Musical, a huge Broadway honor. You should see this show, if you’re looking for a great night on the town.
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus
Stephen Lynch and Laura Benanti
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus
Amy Spanger and Company
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus
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