Touring – reviewed at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
I confess that The Wedding Singer is one of my favourite films, it’s not even a guilty pleasure, it’s just sheer eighties throwback joy and cast brilliantly. I was open-minded about the musical version which is based on the film, the soundtrack to the film is so perfect in my humble opinion, that I couldn’t imagine watching a version punctuated with new songs. It definitely works though, the musical adaptation is not trying to be an incarnation of the film, it stands up by itself as a feel-good, cheesy musical and some of the musical numbers are quite something.
The story follows Wedding Singer, Robbie Hart’s heartbreak when dumped at the altar by Linda, his love of seven years. He’s flanked in his downward spiral by his band members; Sammy who likes to think he’s a jack the lad but only had eyes for waitress, Holly, then there’s George, who looks like and might even believe that he is Boy George. Holly’s cousin and fellow waitress, Julia Sullivan completes the picture, she’s hoping to get engaged to her boyfriend, Glen – a cock-sure Wall Street type who has been cheating on her many, many times over. It’s a love story, naturally, with kinks along the way and a happy ending.
The set for the piece is completely eighties in every respect and to look at the staging was akin to stepping back in time. The layout lent itself to the various scene changes and these all happened seamlessly.
As Robbie, Jon Robyns couldn’t have been more different to Adam Sandler, however he certainly made the role his own and I found myself willing him to get the girl and be happy. His vocal ability is exceptional and he really owned the version of ‘Grow Old With You’ that is straight out of the film. It was Ray Quinn as Glen and Ruth Madoc as Grandma Rosie who stole the show for me though, Quinn was all slimy creepiness and his dance moves served as a reminder as to why he did so well in ITV’s Dancing On Ice, years ago. Ruth Madoc is still as entertaining as she ever was and Rosie is perfect casting for her, comic timing and a great song ‘A Note From Grandma’ to showcase her vocals. Stephanie Clift was also well cast as Holly, although occasionally her diction was lost, however she characterised the role brilliantly. Samuel Holmes was a knock out as George, not quite so overt as George from the film, but it worked. Cassie Compton made a gentile and sweet Julia, there is no doubt that she has a beautiful singing voice and it lent itself to the various numbers she sang, however her American accent let her down. It didn’t suit the character, it almost sounded like she was playing a cartoon character at times and it didn’t match the beauty of Compton’s singing voice.
There are many musical numbers to mention, most of which were highlights of the show – however I will give a special nod towards ‘Awesome’ which was great fun and sung superbly by Robyns and Compton. I also felt that the ‘money’ song was ‘All About The Green’, pardon the pun!
Overall, I haven’t come away with the buzz that a musical normally leaves me with and it’s the first time in memory that I’ve come away from this genre of show without having given a standing ovation and with most of the audience not having given one either. Something was lacking, hence the star rating. Although I would recommend this as a great feel-good show which offers copious amounts of eighties fun.