‘The Wedding Singer’ rocks Washington Hall
Alexandra Lowery | Monday, March 23, 2015
While most of us were only toddlers at the time of its release, “The Wedding Singer” and its toothache-worthy sweetness have endured with lasting popularity over the last decade and a half, the story evolving from feature film to Broadway musical to PEMCo production held at Washington Hall this weekend.
The densely choreographed, energetic musical retelling of the 1998 movie that launched Adam Sandler as heartthrob as well as goofball relies heavily on the comedic aptitude of its stars and their ability to create characters that do justice to their original counterparts while noting their screen-to-stage differences.
Pasquerilla East Musical Company staged a musical romance that pretty much no one can hate. With a talented cast, memorable comedic moments and beloved source material, most viewers who bought a ticket left with smiles on their faces and “Grow Old With You” stuck in their heads.
Set in 1985 — a fact that unfortunately led to a few insignificant anachronisms of the costume and prop persuasion — the plot follows Robbie Hart, portrayed by senior Chris Siemann, a “wedding singer” and hopeless romantic who’s in love with love until his evil fiancée leaves him at the altar. The musician’s “Hart”-break leads him on a hilarious string of self-inflicted mishaps and blunders, one of which includes falling for the very beautiful and very engaged Julia Sullivan.
A production like this falls apart without a star capable of Sandler-level comedy who remains believable as the eventual heroic lead. Siemann did not disappoint, portraying Robbie as a ludicrously unhinged songwriter who was just as capable of great love and kindness. With great comedic timing, willingness to commit to physical humor and melodic voice, Siemann had the audience laughing most of his time on-stage and swooning the rest.
Supported by equally talented castmates, Siemann played opposite Victoria Pereira, an angelic soprano to Robbie’s rock tenor. Pereira radiated pure optimism and sweetness, with the main couple’s chemistry palpable and enjoyable on stage. Maggie Moran was a standout as Holly, Julia’s uninhibited cousin, who was in the spotlight for arguably the show’s most unforgettable moment when Moran pulled a lever that released a cascade of water onto the actress á la Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance.”
Kathleen Marguerite Clark slayed in the small-but-vital role of Rosie, Robbie’s eccentric grandmother, who turns out is a really dope rapper. Quint Mediate and Jacob Schrimpf made perfect comedic reliefs as Robbie’s bandmates/best friends, Sammy and George, while Tommy Favorite and Shannon Kirk did a great job of making us hate them as the show’s resident villains, Glen Guglia and Linda, respectively.
Each musical part was beautifully performed, despite the fact that many of the songs apart from the two that were already present in the original movie were somewhat forgettable. The score, while enjoyable by pop standards, lacked originality and excitement for the audience. However, director Caitlin Schlehuber and choreographer Maggie Miller livened up the production by making nearly every song that wasn’t a ballad extremely dance-heavy. The numbers were well executed and did their job even when they felt a little clunky, something I blame on the large cast attempting the moves on the small stage at Washington.
Overall, PEMCo staged a production that was entertaining and faithful to its cinematic counterpart without attempting to duplicate it. Sandler and Barrymore would be proud, guys.