Based on the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore film of the same name, The Wedding Singer is a musical that is guaranteed to make you smile, chuckle and sing in the car on the way home. OXAGEN have brought this musical to the stage for a limited season with coloured eye shadow and hairspray abounding.
Heading the cast in the iconic role of Robbie Hart is Ryan Purdy. Purdy gives this role everything it demands with clear influences from Sandler whilst nailing the tough vocals and complex comic timing. All that and he plays guitar. Purdy really is a force to be reckoned with in this production which is both a blessing and a curse for the show as a whole.
Playing opposite him in the role of Julia Sutherland is the young Stefanie Fazzari. Fazzari struggles with the concept of Julia as a character, portraying her as edgy with lots of attitude and it makes her quite unlikeable. The point of difference between Julia and Linda is that Julia is soft, sweet and innocent. Her reactions around her fiancé Glen, in particular, made me wonder why she would be upset at all when her mother suggests he may break up with her, given she clearly can’t stand him anyway. Diction is a particular issue with Fazzari and a relentless belt voice means that many musical moments are robbed of any softness or subtlety.
Maddie Wooster as Holly is suitably sassy and whilst her vocals are a bit hit-and-miss, her characterisation is strong. Merryn Degnan completely steals the shows with her few scenes as Linda. Degnan is an absolute fire cracker and what she may lack in dance abilities, she certainly makes up for in a strong character performance and killer vocal chops.
Other notable performers include Benito Veneziano as the smoothest and fastest Sammy I’ve ever seen, Jonothan White’s brilliant performance of ‘George’s Prayer’, complete with trumpet, Bethany Girardi’s beautiful portrayal of Julia’s mother, Angie, and Tristan Lawrence’s many fantastic cameos.
Lighting suffers from a lack of set to actually light and a constant wash of solid colours sometimes makes scenes feel like they are swimming in cordial. A particular lighting issue is caused in the opening of Act Two where all of the green props are washed out by a blast of green lights that engulf the entire scene from start to finish.
Sound mixing of the vocals was far too loud, causing me to nearly bring my fingers to my ears in certain scenes and songs. Choreography is clean but confused, particularly in the opening scene when it appears the ensemble are performing some sort of 1920s jazz combination at a 1980s wedding function.
Whilst this production is not without its faults, it still is a great night out at the theatre. The Wedding Singer is one of those movies that translates really to the stage, so if you’re a fan of the film or need a feel-good musical to warm you up this Winter, make sure you grab a ticket quick before they close on Saturday.
Shows: 29th June – 2nd July