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July 19, 2011 > Theatre Review: The Wedding Singer: A Blast From the Past

Theatre Review: The Wedding Singer: A Blast From the Past

By Jessica Noel Waymire

Comedy, romance, and 80s nostalgia blends harmoniously in Stage 1 Theatre's presentation of The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy. This high energy musical is a fun piece of community theatre that will have you reminiscing about big hair, blue eye shadow and dancing to your favorite high school tunes.

Now running through the end of July at Newark Memorial High School, the musical production of The Wedding Singer was adapted for the stage in 2005 from the 1998 film of the same name. Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy wrote the book and music, with lyrics from Matthew Skylar. Director John Maio does a tremendous job of ensuring an enthusiastic, energetic performance. Robert Lopez and Sherae Honeycutt, who portray the main characters, Robbie and Julia, are a very convincing, endearing couple.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the film, The Wedding Singer is the story of Robbie Hart, a New Jersey musician who is a hit as a wedding singer until he finds himself left at the altar by his outrageous fiancˇe, Linda. He becomes terribly bitter about "happily ever after" until falling for a lovely waitress name Julia who happens to work at many of his gigs. Unfortunately, Julia is engaged to a wealthy businessman who has no intention of ever giving up his many infidelities. The love triangle causes Julia to question what she really values: true love or financial stability. Robbie faces the challenges of overcoming a broken heart and finding his place in this "material world."

If you are expecting an on-stage re-creation of the Adam Sandler movie, you're in for a surprise. Although the basic story line is the same, some aspects of the plot have been altered. Diehard Adam Sandler fans may be skeptical, but the musical is truly its own production and well worth watching. Those of us who grew up in the 80s will enjoy the many cultural references and retrospective economic prophecies (e.g., the failure of New Coke and the success of Starbucks).

Grandma Rosie, played by Belinda Maloney, is the gem of the show. She perfectly combines the character of an adoring grandmother with that of a witty woman of the world. Her rapping/dancing duet with Robbie's band mate, George (David Irving), is priceless! This scene was clearly an audience favorite on opening night.

Costumes chosen for this piece were well suited to the 1980s setting. The New Jersey girls have big hair and the trademark blue eye shadow. The set pieces are minimal so scene changes are quick and don't distract from the performance. When the whole cast is on the stage, the musical is at its best. There are some lulls in the dialogue, but overall it is a great play with a lot of laughs.

A note of importance for parents considering taking their younger children to this performance: the play contains adult language, sexual references, and recreational drug use. It is better suited to high school students and adults.

The Wedding Singer
July 22, 23, 29, 30 at 8:00 p.m. and July 24 at 2:30 p.m.
Newark Memorial High School
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287
www.stage1theatre.org

High School Students or Younger: $10
Adults: $18 - $22

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