The Mayflower, Southampton – until 8 April 2017
Guest reviewer: Sarah Miatt
The Wedding Singer was originally conceived as a romantic comedy film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in 1998. Being made into a musical which premiered on Broadway eight years later in 2006. After being nominated for a Tony award in 2006 the show went on tour. The Wedding Singer has since become popular with amateur dramatics groups and also spawned several touring productions in the U.K.
As such the musical doesn’t deviate from the film much. Groom Robbie Hart is jilted at the altar and then falls in love with waitress, Julia. This story is sweet and hilariously funny with great, upbeat songs.
While the show was visually good fun to watch, it was also very bright and colourful and full of nods to the 1980’s. The most impressive part of the otherwise sparse set was the huge billboard which was flown in and out of the scenes as and when required. They made great use of this with clips of films from the decade as the audience came in to adverts for cellphones and, in the case of Robbie’s basement bedroom, band posters. Other items were moved on and off stage with precision and speed. Although disappointingly on more than one occasion the sight lines into the wings were obviously visible meaning the items off set were seen waiting to come on.
Props were fantastic and the use of the wedding cake to house Linda, (Robbie’s fiancé) was particularly funny. Furthermore the costumes were typical of the period and filled the stage with colour. All of the ensemble pulled their weight, playing a variety of roles from wedding guests, to working in a department store, from night clubbers to Wall Street workaholics. Rarely have I seen a show where the ensemble played so many different roles.
Of the principals, Television stars Ray Quinn and Roxanne Pallett shone as Julia’s nasty finance Glen Gulia and her best friend Holly. Quinn was suitable slimy and mean showing off his great voice. Whilst Pallett was sassy and fun and full of energy. Ashley Emerson and Samuel Holmes, best friends and band mates Sammy and George were hilarious together. With Emerson portraying the leering but good-hearted Sammy to perfection whilst Holmes was a joy to watch as the camp, Boy George lookalike.
Jon Robyns as Robbie Hart had the majority of stage time and used it well. His beautiful singing voice combined with great stage presence and comic timing made him perfect for this role. Cassie Compton as his love interest, Julia Sullivan was sweet and innocent and unassuming but also had great comic timing. The pair were a good match onstage and had great chemistry.
However the show belonged to television veteran Ruth Madoc. Her performance as Robbie’s grandmother, Rosie was just perfect. She was wonderfully funny and her rap duet with Samuel Holmes, George (Move that Thang) was an absolute highlight of the show.
If you need a night full of laughs and music you want to dance in the aisle to, this is the show for you.