Katie Packer on directing The Wedding Singer

Katie Packer is no stranger to working with Phoenix Theatre Company so when they called asking her to be the musical director for The Wedding Singer she trusted that they had chosen a great show. In fact Packer and Phoenix Theatre Company have been an effective team for almost 7 years now since she first joined them as musical director of The Outsiders in 2007. Packer recalls listening to the soundtrack of The Wedding Singer for the first time and being pleasantly surprised by how catchy all the songs are. Packer describes the music as ‘Very 80s, very evocative of different songs we know from that era.’

Based on the 1998 romantic comedy film, The Wedding Singer traces the feeble musical career and love life of singer Robbie Hart (Ryan Purdy). The show opens the night before this romantic’s own wedding and little does he expect the events of the following day when Linda, (Lisa McMahon), Hart’s bride to be decides he is not quite the man for her in ‘A Note from Linda.’ Headed in a downward spiral Robbie decides he can’t sing anymore and threatens to give up music forever, until he is convinced to ‘Come out of the Dumpster’ by loyal friend Julia (Kat Elliot). And we watch and wait as their friendship develops into something more.

Quite a few new cast members are joining Phoenix Theatre for The Wedding Singer and Packer says this is one of the things she enjoys most about working in theatre. Of course there are a few old hands on board also to support the newbies, which has been good as Packer admits to have been pushing the performers very hard this time. This zealous director describes them as one of ‘the most talented cast I’ve had the pleasure of working with as musical director.’

For many directors or musical directors the thought of having to actually get up and perform themselves is just a little more than frightening, not so for Packer. This musical director is no stranger to the stage as each year she alternates her time between performing and directing. Having been away last year and missing out on a few shows Packer admits that she has a ‘burning desire’ to back on stage and is actually looking forward to auditioning again. Her own training began when she was very young. Singing along to all the TV adverts since the time she could talk Packer’s musical talent was quickly recognised. She was encouraged to join the school choir and performed in her first musical when she was in year 7. A Bachelor of music and performance at Adelaide University was the next big step for Packer which in turn led her on the path towards becoming a singing teacher and performer. Balancing these two roles isn’t easy for any performer but Packer managed to do so while also being nominated not once but twice for her role in Nunsense I and Nunsense II with Phoenix Theatre Company.

Packer continued her joint role as a singing teacher and performer for almost 7 years in Adelaide and she has spoken about how useful this experience has been in helping her in her position as musical director.
Speaking to Packer during the week it was apparent that she thoroughly enjoys her role as musical director with Phoenix Theatre Company. ‘We’ve been rehearsing for almost 4 months now’ she said ‘and we’re still laughing at the same jokes.’ So what should you expect from a night spent with Phoenix Theatre Company? Well according to Packer you will be leaving ‘with a smile…and tapping our toes’ all the way home, that at least ‘has been the process for all of us.’ It sounds to me like this is a lucky bunch of cast members who are going to keep you greatly entertained.

The Wedding singer opens on the 24th of May at The Doncaster Playhouse and runs until the 1st of June 2013.

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