Love was supposed to be in the air this Valentine’s Day at the Curve in Leicester for their new production of The Wedding Singer. Based on the Adam Sandler film, we are taken to 1985 New Jersey. A rather tame and predictable plot follows: Robbie Hart is a wedding singer who, after being left at the altar, falls in love with the friendly waitress Julia. Thus begins his quest to win the girl from the adulterous city worker Glen, via Las Vegas and a serious of poorly shoehorned 80s references.
Nick Winston’s production was, on the whole, safe with its direction and choreography to the point of clockwatching. The first act felt extremely long and lacked any serious pace – actually running at an hour and a half, so not unusually long. We saw snippets of what this could have been at the end of each act, when the whole thing pushed itself in its campness and determination to create something which matched the cliché of plot.
Jon Robyns starred as Robbie Hart, the titular wedding singer spurned at the altar. His performance was not as good as his fantastic Emmett from last year’s Legally Blonde, but still put in a solid show. He was better on the numbers which had a bit of grit to them, or his more emotional and stripped back acoustic numbers.
His chemistry with Cassie Compton was delightful nonetheless, who had a really charmingly lovely quality to her character of Julia. We really wanted to see her end up with the slightly hopeless Robbie, but it was obvious from the start that it would work for them both. We got a very sweet snapshot into their developing relationship in Not That Kind of Thing. Ray Quinn’s Glen was suitably detestable to ensure he was the antagonist for the work, and when pitched against the unchiselled Robbie, he stood even further out for repugnant opportunist he was. Not only that, he managed to pull off one of the best numbers in All About The Green.
The musical doesn’t have a sufficiently nuanced plot to hold up where the original film may well succeed, and equally the songs are very rarely hummable – I stood at the station afterwards and couldn’t recall a single tune! What this needed was Winston to attack this with a bulldozer full of a talented cast, a strong directorial vision which embraced the campness along with bold choreography and commitment to the story.
It only gets the former, which is why The Wedding Singer isn’t a night to remember for its musical prowess. The cast drive this, and manage to capitalise on some very well timed full company numbers to win over the audience.
- Music: Matthew Sklar
- Book: Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy
- Lyrics: Tim Herlihy
- Director/Choreographer: Nick Winston
- Cast includes: Job Robyns, Cassie Compton, Ray Quinn, Roxanne Pallett
- Curve, Leicester
- At venue until 18th February, prior to national tour.
- Review by Harry Tennison