The year is 1985. Think crimped hair, UV lights and bad wedding dresses.
The Wedding Singer received a warm welcome from Curve Leicester last night as it prepares to embark on its nationwide tour. It promises to be a “hilarious musical based on the hit film”, and it certainly is just that. Having never seen the film due to a severe dislike of Adam Sandler (sorry!), I can only judge the story based on the musical alone.
This show doesn’t claim to be founded on groundbreaking material and I imagine it won’t be going down in history alongside the giants of Les Miserables or The Phantom of the Opera. Nevertheless, this light-hearted, feel-good musical will leave you smiling and singing along all the way home.
Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns), the loveable protagonist, opens the show with the toe-tapping It’s Your Wedding Day. Nick Winston’s unsurprisingly incredible choreography ensured this number left me wide eyed and grinning from ear to ear. Robbie is a wedding singer who, as the show opens, is preparing to watch his very own bride, Linda (Tara Verloop), walk down the aisle the next day. Alas, true love is not meant to be and Robbie is unceremoniously jilted at the alter by Linda who cannot bring herself to marry a wedding singer who never quite became the rock star she thought he would.
However, his new-found friendship in waitress Julia Sullivan (Cassie Compton) both helps and hinders the mending of his broken heart as, before too long, he falls for her instead. Julia, however, is due to marry The Wedding Singer’s very own ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, Glen Guglia (Ray Quinn). Whoever said love was easy?
The principle cast members are all obviously talented and very easy to watch. They also faultlessly sailed through some sound balancing issues that I imagine will be ironed out as the tour finds its feet. Jon and Cassie have palpable chemistry as our leading couple and their relationship is very believable.
Fresh from his recent performance as Emmett in Curve’s Legally Blonde, Jon has truly made this role his own and is downright hilarious in the part. You truly feel his heartbreak for his ex and confusion over his feelings for his friend and you cannot help but root for his character.
Cassie’s vocals are beautiful and she nails the big numbers including If I Told You and It’s Not That Kind of Thing. She sometimes plays the role a tad too sweet and could perhaps benefit from adding a little extra spice or ‘oomph’ into her performance. Occasionally her comedy timing was misplaced, leaving a few jokes to fall flat. Again, I have no doubts whatsoever that this will not be the case at all once she finds her feet in the role.
Jon and Cassie are joined by best friend Holly (Roxanne Pallett) and her cute pastel pink wig with powerful vocals to match. Saturday Night in the City and Right In Front of Your Eyes definitely make my top five favourite numbers in this show.
One character that I felt was slightly misplaced was that of Linda. Having previously seen this character staged with a slightly more comedic interpretation, I have to say that I felt this interpretation took itself slightly too seriously and again – a few classic comedy opportunities were missed. Tara is a great vocalist and actor, however, who sits very comfortably next to a long line up of top-notch performers.
Other outstanding performances included that of George (Samuel Holmes) and Rosie (Ruth Madoc) who really shone in their roles and both had the audience screaming with laughter.
This show is full of clever moments that really use the set and space to its every advantage. The song Single stood out as one of the high points of the musical for me.
All in all, this musical is a treat and is jam-packed with great songs, tight harmonies, unforgettable choreography and brilliant acting. At the end of the show the audience were on their feet and one look around the auditorium during the finale told me that they were as impressed as me.
Reviewed by Rosie Bambury
The Wedding Singer runs at Curve Leicester until Saturday 18 February 2017 before embarking on nation wide tour