Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Wedding Singer"

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entire contents copyright 2012 by Tony Annicone

"The Wedding Singer"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Company Theatre's current show is "The Wedding Singer". It is based on the movie of the same name. Return to 1986 and relive the days of big hair, Madonna and Thriller. The title character, Robbie Hart, lives in his grandmother's basement in New Jersey and is a would-be rock star who makes do by fronting a band that plays wedding receptions. He's good at his job because he's in love with love and the notion of happily ever after; that is, until he is left standing at the altar by his shanky fiancee, Linda. His dreams of being a songwriter are long gone, replaced by a burning desire to find the right girl and settle down. His only hope of salvation lies in the form of Julia Sullivan, a sweet waitress who unfortunately already has a boyfriend: Wall Street junk bonds whiz kid, Glen. Will true love prevail or not, be sure to catch this show to find out with all its clever twists and turns. This splendid production is the must see show of the spring season.

Directors Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman infuse high energy in their 30 member cast while musical director Michael Joseph obtains top vocals from them and choreographer Sally Ashton Forrest creates some fantastic and funky dances for the show, winning them a spontaneous standing ovation at curtain call. Zoe blocks the show beautifully. She mixes the comic and dramatic moments together, obtaining topnotch performances from her cast. Michael conducts his marvelous 9 piece orchestra. Sally's terrific dance numbers include the snake, cabbage patch, running man, twist, break dancing, disco and kick-line. Her dances stop the show with their exuberance. The easily moved set is by James Valentin while the 1980's costumes are by Shirley Carney and lighting by Bailey Costa.

Dark haired Owen Murphy leads this cast in this huge role and is phenomenal as the angst ridden Robbie. He captures the heart and soul of this character and shows off his topnotch dancing skills, too. Owen's terrific tenor voice is heard in "It's Your Wedding Day'' which is Robbie's signature song until Linda dumps him, "Somebody Kill Me" is a jazzy song which shows his reaction to her rejection where he hopes she fucking chokes and dies, and "Casualty of Love" when he destroys the wedding reception he's singing at, insults the bride and groom with the bride belting him in the mouth, kicking him and the groom and a friend toss him in the dumpster. Owen's duets with the character of Julia include "Come Out of the Dumpster", where she coaxes him to come out, behave and try singing at bar mitzvahs, "Not That Kind of Thing" where he and Julia go shopping, "If I Told You" where he and Julia have unrequited feelings for each other and in the poignant "Grow Old With You" where he enters strumming his guitar to try and win her back. Owen is a graduating senior Theatre major at Salve Regina University and he shows off his acting chops in this role, too. Sarah Leary, a gorgeous blonde plays Julia. She is marvelous as this sweet, soulful waitress who wins the heart of Robbie. Julia must make a choice between Robbie and her current fiancee, Glen. She is impressed with Glen, his money and what it can buy. Julia, her mom, Angie and Holly sing "Pop the Question" when they think Glen is going to propose to her. Sarah's first solo is "Someday" where she imagines what it'd be like to get married and then worms her way into the current wedding party which leads to much laughter. The dumpster song is hilarious as she convinces Robbie to sing at non-wedding functions. Then in "Not That Kind of Thing" she and Robbie explain to the clerk that they aren't the couple getting married and at the end of Act 1 Sarah has a funny drunk scene. Her duets with Owen are "If I Told You" which tugs at your heartstrings when they realize they are in love with each other as does the poignant "Grow Old With You" where they admit their love at last. Both of them are marvelous dancers, too. Dynamic job by Owen and Sarah as these two leads.

One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Juliana Dennis as Robbie's foul mouth grandmother, Rosie who talks about how many men she had sex with before marriage and also buys Robbie a vibrating bed with a coin slot for a quarter. She sings "A Note from Grandma" where she comforts Robbie by saying Linda is a shanky whore. Juliana also performs "Move That Thang" a rap song with James Valentin as George. They do a dance to it with Nick Cox playing the break dancing grandma. Adam Rosencrance and James play Sammy and George, Robbie's fellow band-mates. They are like the three stooges with their funny one liners. They use their powerful voices with Owen in "Today You Are a Man" at a bar mitzvah which is hilarious. Adam also shows off his voice in "Single" when they get drunk at a bar. He is very funny, has great hang dog expressions and talks about working at an Orange Julius the rest of his life if the band doesn't succeed. Adam sings a duet with Ellen Buckley who plays Holly, Julia's cousin, in the romantic ballad "Right in Front of Your Eyes" about falling in love with each other again. The song is reminiscent of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". Ellen dances with Adam during it and garners many laughs while wearing a t-shirt saying I'm with stupid while he has one saying stupid. Ellen's solo at the end of Act 1 is called "Saturday Night in the City" where she and the cast sing and dance like "YMCA". It is a show stopping dance number. She, Sarah and Christine Kenney as Angie, Julia's mom sing "Pop the Question". James Valentin plays George, the glitzy tres gay member of the band, a Boy George type. He is a superb dancer and singer, showing off his voice in "George's Prayer" where he does a take off on the Seder prayer in Yiddish. He break dances in the second act while singing "Move That Thang". James is a hoot when he models Julia's wedding dress when she and Robbie go shopping. He always does a topnotch job and this show is one more feather in his cap.

The show's two villains are Robbie and Julia's fiancees, Glen and Linda. Brendan Cawley as Glen has a comic song "All About the Green" where he sings about his love of money and wall street trading. He opens the second act with this number and he, Owen and the chorus do a marvelous dance in this rollicking song. Glen cheats a lot on Julia in the show, is a conceited ass, has a roving eye and gets his just desserts from the Tina Turner impersonator. The trashy Linda is played by Lindsy Warwick. She dances up a storm as this tramp in "Linda's Letter" and in the second act she does "Let Me Come Home" while trying to sucker Robbie into letting her back into his life. She acts like a bitch to Julia when she wants to talk to Robbie. Samantha brior Jones plays this role at alternating performances. Kudos to the whole cast on their terrific singing and dancing skills in this high energy show. So for a fabulous fun filled return to the 80's, be sure to catch "The Wedding Singer" at Company Theatre in Norwell, MA.

"The Wedding Singer" (16 March - 7 April)
@ 30 Accord Park Drive, NORWELL MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide