REVIEW: The Wedding Singer @Theatre Royal

Based on the 1998 box office breaking movie, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, The Wedding Singer’s original musical score written by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin has much to offer but sadly on first hearing, few memorable tunes.

The year is 1985 and Robbie Hart (played by Jon Robyns) the ‘best’ wedding singer in New Jersey is dumped at the altar by his fiancé, Linda on their big day.

Robbie meets waitress Julia Sullivan, (played by Cassie Compton) who confides in him, that her own fiancé Wall Street trader and prolific coke snorter Glenn Gulia (played by Ray Quinn) has not asked for her hand in marriage.

Julia helps Robbie over the shock of being dumped and Robbie helps Julia plan her wedding to Glenn who eventually proposes to her.

Yes, you’ve guessed it!  Julia sees the light and ends up getting married to Robbie in Las Vegas.

The opening number It’s Your Wedding Day gets the show off to a great start with impressive dancing and singing from the chorus and the opportunity to introduce on the stage band, Simply Wed featuring Sammy (Ashley Emerson) and Boy George lookalike (Samuel Holmes). The rest of act one was somewhat of an anti climax with the exception of Come out of the dumpster which was the number I left the show humming.

The pace of the second half was much quicker and highlights included Single featuring the male characters displaying some dandy footwork in a bar. The introduction of famous lookalikes including Tina Turner and Billie Idol was inspired, and the hilarious rap entitled Move that Thang with Grandma Rosie (Ruth Madoc) and George stole the show.

The set is simple but very effective with the cultural references to 1985 played on an overhead screen, reminding us exactly what 1985 looked and smelt like.

Standout performance are delivered by Ruth Madoc who shone like a beacon every time she was on stage and who I could have done with seeing and hearing much more from. hers was a glorious performance.

Every movement by Ray Quinn is showbiz and his American accent was spot on.

Both Jon Robyns and Cassie Compton have wonderful and secure voices and successfully made their characters vulnerable yet believable. I was really rooting for them to get together during the second half.

Special mention also for Samuel Holmes who was born to honour Boy George and Stephanie Clift who played Holly.

After seeing the show I listened to the soundtrack at home. I really wished I had done that before going as on second hearing many of the tracks were much more memorable.

I suppose that’s the risk of staging a Juke Box musical with an entirely original score. On first hearing, and this was the first time I had seen the show, you have to work very hard to take it all in.

While the finale managed to bring some of the Brighton audience to their feet, what I took away from this show more than anything else was how hard the company worked together as an ensemble with first class choreography and dancing and great support from a polished off stage band.

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