If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s going to the theatre to see a good musical. So when I got the chance to go along to the opening night of The Wedding Singer at The Theatre Royal in Nottingham with my niece Lauren last night, I was over the moon. The Wedding Singer was one of my favourite films when I was growing up, and I couldn’t wait to see it come alive on stage!
WHAT IS THE WEDDING SINGER ABOUT?
Based on the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, The Wedding Singer is a laugh a minute musical comedy with loads of fabulous 80’s inspired pop songs that are guaranteed to get the audience clapping their hands and tapping their feet!
The show is set in 1985 and follows the story of Robbie Hart, a wedding singer who is set to marry his fianceé Linda but gets jilted at the alter. This sends him into a deep despair, but luckily he’d recently struck up a friendship with Julia Sullivan, a super sweet waitress at the wedding venue he performs at. As their relationship begins to blossom, Robbie finds himself falling for Julia. But of course, she’s engaged to the filthy rich and extremely arrogant Glen Gulia.
When Robbie realises that Glen is cheating on Julia, he knows it’s time to tell her how he feels about her. But when he reaches her house he sees her through the window wearing her wedding dress and looking ridiculously happy. Convinced she’s in love with Glen, he decides not to go through with telling her. Is he making a big mistake? Will the truth be revealed and their true feelings for each other exposed before it’s too late and she becomes Julia Gulia?!
MY THOUGHTS ON THE WEDDING SINGER
Well, where do I start? I hadn’t realised until recently that The Wedding Singer had been turned into a musical (despite it being over ten years old), so I didn’t know any of the songs until the night before the actual show when I had a quick listen to the soundtrack on Spotify. I’d also had a look to see if there were any familiar faces in the cast, but as I don’t watch shows like ‘The X Factor’ the only one I recognised was Ruth Madoc, who played Gladys in Hi-de-Hi back in the 80’s. I wasn’t at all sure how Ruth was going to fit into the show, but I was excited to find out.
Lauren and I took our seats in the auditorium about five minutes before the show was due to start, and there was a big screen on stage playing various clips from the 1980’s. I looked around me and, as usual, the theatre was packed full of people ready and waiting to enjoy their night out. The screen then changed to a ‘Back to the Future’ style image, which projected yesterday’s date, along with a date from 1985, which was where the show began …
Act One opens with ‘It’s Your Wedding Day’, which is probably my favourite song of the whole show. It’s so upbeat and catchy you can’t help but sing along! In fact, there’s not a bad song in the show, but I’ll talk about that more in a minute. From the second the cast arrived on stage it was clear that they were full of energy, and loved being a part of the show. I genuinely felt like I was at a wedding reception, and wanted to get up and have a dance with them!
The role of Robbie was played by Jon Robyns, and I think it’s safe to say he’s absolutely perfect for the part. I was surprised at just how much he sounded like Adam Sandler when he spoke, and his charm and comical nature had the audience in the palm of this hand from the start. Lauren mentioned she thought he looked like Kenneth Branagh when he played Gilderoy Lockhart in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, and I know what she meant – he did do a good few cheeky grins throughout the performance!
The chemistry between Robbie and Julia, played by Cassie Compton, couldn’t have been any better. And their harmonies complimented each other just perfectly. I feel like the role of Julia must be quite a difficult one to play as she’s quite shy and quiet. Cassie played it amazingly though, and her stage presence really shone through. She also sounded a lot like Drew Barrymore when she spoke. I’ve seen quite a lot of American musicals in my time, and I felt like everyone who starred in this one had the best accents!
There was one cast member in particular who stood out for me on the night, and that was Tara Verloop, who played the role of Holly. Now, if you’ve seen any posters of The Wedding Singer recently, you’ll have seen that Roxanne Pallett was playing Holly, but she’s actually left the show now and Tara is currently understudying. She has an absolutely brilliant voice and totally owned the part. I loved her pink bob too. It was very 80’s!
That does bring me to my one teeny tiny criticism of the show though. Tara usually plays Robbie’s fianceé, Linda, but on the night we saw The Wedding singer, Linda was played by Hannah Jay-Allan. Hannah seemed to have a great voice, but both Lauren and I felt that the music for Linda’s two songs was a little too loud and we couldn’t really hear what she was singing. It didn’t spoil the experience for us or anything, but I did feel bad for Hannah, bless her.
As you would imagine, the set for The Wedding Singer was fantastic. Both the set and the costumes were bright and colourful, and I felt we could have genuinely been in the 80’s. I liked how the set could be moved around seamlessly to create different scenes, and I thought it was genius when the lights from the top of the stage moved down to create a bar for the bar scene.
I mentioned before that there wasn’t a bad song in the show, and as I write this review I’m listening to the soundtrack again and totally stand by that statement. They’re all really strong songs that fit into the story perfectly. Most of them are originals, but there are a couple that you’ll recognise from the movie if you’ve ever seen it. These are ‘Somebody Kill Me’ and ‘Grow Old With You’. You might also expect to hear ‘Love Stinks’, but this has been replaced by one called ‘Casualty of Love’, which I personally think is much better. Jon totally rocks it when he sings it too. And can I just say how much I enjoyed Ruth singing ‘A Note from Grandma?’ She had me (and the rest of the audience) in stitches!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I would most definitely go and see it again. The cast were all fantastic and had boundless energy from start to finish. I loved every single song, and I felt like I was a guest at all the weddings that played out on stage last night.
The show runs for approximately 2 and a half hours (including the interval) and is recommended for ages 12 and over. I have to admit that I almost took my thirteen-year-old daughter, Stacey, along with me, but I’m glad I didn’t as there were quite a few mature scenes in the show and I think it would have been a little awkward watching it with her!
I don’t think you need to have seen the movie to enjoy the musical version of The Wedding Singer. The story is told really well, through a mixture of songs and dialogue. You should most definitely go and see it if you enjoy a good musical comedy as this is guaranteed to have you laughing from the start.
The Wedding Singer is running at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until Saturday 13th May 2017, before continuing on its tour around the UK. Tickets for the shows can be booked by clicking here.
Have you guys ever seen The Wedding Singer on stage before?
Let me know in the comments below!
*I was kindly given two tickets to see The Wedding Singer in exchange for an honest review