One local theater group has brought the ‘80s back in style.
“The Wedding Singer,” released in 1998, starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in a story based on ‘80s culture. Years later, it was adapted into a Broadway show and it was that that Narrows Community Theater homed in on for its latest project.
The production brought the energy in right from the opening number. “It’s Your Wedding Day” is an upbeat number where male lead Robbie Hart, played earnestly by Maximilian Baudisch, starts off the musical as a jovial guy, who is content playing wedding gigs with his band. The entire ensemble joins Robbie during the number and his solid dance number sets the tone. Hart discusses how excited he is about his upcoming wedding to his sweetheart Linda, played by Amanda Szymczak, which is just a couple of days away.
That excitement is quickly squashed as she doesn’t show up on their wedding day. This unfortunate turn of events results in a slightly darker tone as Hart is devastated, but like the film, the play keeps a comedic vibe despite such misfortunes.
Enter Kristin Antonelle, the female lead who plays Julia Sullivan, a waitress at the same catering hall where Hart plays gigs. They hit it off from the first scene. Although she is about to be engaged to the show’s antagonist, Glen Guglia, played by the hilarious Brian Kilday, there is genuine chemistry and care between the two, which leads to a slow, back and forth, budding romance that pays off by the show’s third act.
The cast seemed to have a blast capitalizing on the ‘80s culture. The wardrobes are bright and the jokes are at the forefront (characters are amazed by the creation of cell phones, although they are gigantic and Guglia thinks that New Coke was a brilliant idea, references ‘80s kids ate up).
The actors have fun and the audience fed off of that and went along for the ride. Antonelle’s voice was a joy to listen to and she’s extremely likeable when she’s with Baudisch, who also shines.
Not only does he also have a strong voice, but he plays a relatable guy. He’s the everyman that we want to root for. It could’ve been a difficult task to match Sandler’s dry humor and wit, but he adds something new to the table that translates well into theater setting.
Director Michael Chase Gosselin was given the potentially difficult task of taking a film that’s loved by both Sandler fans and lovers of 1980s culture and preserving the charm of the film while adding something new for audiences in a musical setting.
Luckily, Gosselin, the actors and crew were up to the task as the show serves as a love letter for longtime fans and introduces newcomers to a unique experience. Some dialogue is taken directly from the show, while other scenes include twists. Highlights included songs taken from the film such as the depressing “Somebody Kill Me” and the romantic “Grow Old with You.”
Gosselin also worked to add depth to supporting characters from the film, giving each of them a moment to tell their conflict through crisp dialogue, song and dance. Kilday adds tremendous comic relief as the over-the-top jerk that you hope doesn’t get the girl, yet is still a joy to watch.
“The Wedding Singer” is a charming show that audiences smiled throughout. Narrows Community Theater should be proud of tackling a different type of show and making it work.