After three long years and three cancelled shows Woodseats Musical Theatre Company finally and joyously make it back to the stage with their production of The Musical Comedy, The Wedding Singer. . so get ready to party like it’s 1985! With the Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Harlihy, Music by Matthew Sklar and Lyrics by Chad Beguelin, this production is directed by Ian Walker, and I particularly liked the breaking of the 4th wall as the performers used the space on the steps and in the audience – nice touch. The Choreography is by Amber Parry and Lilly Abram and the Musical direction by Dominic Ridler. The 8 strong band sounded great, and the balance of their sound was good. I must note that Ridler is unusually an MD who plays drums, his performance in the pits in itself is very flamboyant and I found myself watching him as he sang along in enjoyment!
The Wedding Singer for those of you unfamiliar with the Musical, tells the story of Robbie Hart, a Wedding singer in a band and an all-round nice guy. In a job that is inundated with romance, Robbie loses his belief in love, when he, himself, is jilted at the altar. Enter the young waitress, Julia; who is engaged to the unsuitable Glen; initially making Robbie promise to sing at her wedding, their friendship grows and so does their love. Thinking Robbie has reunited with his former fiancé, Julia elopes to Las Vegas with Glen to marry. Can Robbie get there in time to prevent it and declare his feelings? Can he play the gig of his life to win her heart and hand? And all this with a score that pays homage to the 1980’s, and with the pop star impersonators of Vegas to add to the mix!
For those of you looking for a serious, ‘deep’ musical, this is not the show for you, but for those of you that want a night out with some good old fashioned ‘belly laughs’ and a toe tapping score then I recommend you go along to see this cast have some fun on the stage.
The set is minimalist and has white wings with a raised rostra at the rear. Stage Right has Robbie’s bedroom permanently in situ. Representational, moveable pieces such as tables and chairs are used when needed and this allowed the show to avoid delays in set changes. There were some quite detracting sound/mic issues on the first night, with feedback and missed opening lines for most characters on their entrance. Spotlight/lighting hiccups were evident too and this goes to highlight the inevitable problems Amateur Dramatic societies have with the lack of rehearsal time in performance venues. But I am sure this will all be resolved for the next performance.
The two lead roles of Robbie Hart and Julia Sullivan are played skilfully by Adam Walker and Georgina Hartley-Willows. Both have great voices for these roles and the score gives them real opportunity to showcase this. In the more emotive scenes these two really show their acting class and their connection on stage is admirable. Jon Warburton plays the role of Glen and is suitably obnoxious in role in a typical musical theatre comedic way. His announcements to the audience at the beginning of the show is very cleverly laced with 80’s references and set the tone beautifully for what is to follow.
Julia’s best friend Holly is played by Sarah Ward, and she attacked the role with great gusto, a very watchable young lady. Robbie’s band member Sammie (Joshua Holliday) provides the on/off love interest for Holly and there were some lovely sincere moments between the two in the second act once the characters bravado had been chipped away.
The two ladies that really milk the comedy in very different ways are Mary Newey as Rosie (Robbie’s grandma), I have to confess I found this role my favourite! And Jessica Curr as Robbie’s fiancé Linda with her raunchy number, ‘Let me Come Home’. The skill of the script writing for these two characters is that it just tips over the edge of expectancy, to riotous effect!
However, the standout performer for me has to be the hilarious third band member George played by Dylan Lambert. Never once did his homage to Boy George falter, has vocals and movement/dance skills were effortless and his rendition of ‘George’s Prayer’ complete with questionable trumpet playing and cavorting on banisters was hysterical! I really look forward to seeing this young man in more challenging roles.
The large ensemble worked hard in difficult surroundings, as the stage at the Montgomery theatre is small and this led to problems with ensemble dance numbers and spacing. However, this did not detract from the story and actually worked for the ‘busy, spontaneous wedding party’ scenes.
I must say, after a very difficult period for theatrical companies, I think that The Wedding Singer was a great production for Woodseats MTC to ‘break the leg’ with, and I think that now rehearsals have resumed back to normality they will go from strength to strength.
The Wedding Singer is performed at the Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield from Wednesday 13th to Saturday 16th July 2022 – Go along and join the party! https://www.woodseatsmtc.co.uk/