The Wedding Singer is a film from 1998 with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore and it was adapted into a comedy musical, opening on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on 27 April and closing on 31 December 2006 after only 284 performances. So it wasn’t a runaway hit.
Which for me is somewhat strange as I having just watched Little Theatre Company’s production of it at The Palace Theatre, Westcliff – I came away more than happy with what I had seen.
It doesn’t have show-stopper songs but to be honest that’s likely not why Ian Benson - first time LTC Director chose it, it tells a story or to be exact multiple intersecting stories. Robbie Hart (Jamie Redgate) is a Wedding Singer who has a girlfriend Linda (Paige Williamson) who leaves him downhearted at the altar, his band colleagues Sammy and George help him along and his friends Julia (Becca Pooley) and Holly (Gemma Garracher) help him get over it and get back to what he does best singing.
Julia is in love with Glen Guglia a tough guy and an adulterer of epic proportions (played by the capable John Blatchford).
There comes a great song Somebody Kill Me sung by Jamie, not to mention “Casualty of Love” where he insults everyone at one his wedding gigs – sharply funny.
Jamie Redgate has great energy as Robbie Hart the Wedding Singer – he has an excellent mullet and handles his solo and group songs with professionalism, Equally impressive is Becca Pooley as Julia, charismatic and beautifully tender with her renditions of “Someday” and raunchy with “Come out of the Dumpster” in the 1st half. George played by Lewis Carlile gives us a lounge singer style delivery in the Barmitzvah scene very funny and well done. Sammy (George Rowe) is also great support on “Today you are a Man” and “George’s Prayer”.
Stephanie Wilson is an absolute scene stealer through the entire musical as Grandma Rosie with her standout scene in the 2nd half you really have to see it to believe it and I certainly won’t give it away.
The 1st half speeds along at great pace and in the 2nd half things slow down to play out with great renditions of “All about the Green” by Glen, Robbie and the Company as well as “Let me come Home” from Linda and culminating with “Grow Old With You” by Robbie and Julia.
The ensemble was well used throughout and particularly in the weddings and office scene.
I loved the parade of 80’s musical and film look-a-likes in the 2nd half it was also great fun spotting the musical 80’s motifs peppered throughout even down to some stolen dance moves from famous artists.
The story is simple and as such easy to digest but the humour permeates throughout and gives you that warm feeling as the musical rolls towards its finale.
Staging used was fairly simple but effective, the car was impressive which I found out was made specially for the production as well as good use of a staircase for levels stage left, the curtain dropped to cover the larger scene changes and I particularly liked the lit squares on the proscenium giving it a strong 80’s nightclub feel.
On a warm spring evening LTC sprung to life on the stage at the Palace with excellent ensemble choreography by Chris Higginson ably assisting Ian Benson and Alex Wood in the pit with the band pumping out a great 80’s vibe. I had a good time, going back to one of the kitchiest decades of the last century.
Well done to Little Theatre Company and hope the audiences grow to deserved numbers as the rest of the week unfolds. Now I’m off to listen to my favourite 80’s playlist.
LTC's The Wedding Singer is at the Palace Theatre, Westcliff from 18th - 21st May Wed - Sat 7.30pm: £21.50 / Thu & Sat 2.30pm: £18.50