Since the major success of six-time Oscar winner La La Land, and in the run-up towards the highly anticipated Beauty and the Beast, there’s no doubt that there is well and truly an appetite for musicals again. If you’re looking to check one out on the stage rather than the screen, look no further than the Bord Gais Energy Threatre in Dublin as they are currently showing a musical delight: The Wedding Singer.
Most of you will no doubt be familiar with the feel-good movie of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. As far as screen-to-stage adaptations generally go, there have been mixed results, for example, while the likes of Billy Elliot and Legally Blonde lent themselves well to the stage and worked with the addition of musical numbers, plays like Big the Musical and Elf the Musical just didn’t work as they should have. Fortunately The Wedding Singer gets the balance right.
Story-wise, it’s more or less the same as the film. Robbie Hart (played here by a very Adam Sandler-like – that is 1990s Adam Sandler, not present-day Adam Sandler – Jon Robyns) is a wedding singer but his role goes beyond that. He helps keep the weddings he plays at running hassle-free and makes sure the bride and groom are happy on the big day. After his own wedding day turns to shambles, he befriends waitress Julie (a very sweet and very talented Cassie Compton) as she prepares for her wedding, but things get complicated when he starts falling for her.
The main cast and ensemble gathered are a delightful, funny and multi-talented bunch. The singing and dancing are particularly impressive. Two perhaps weaker characterisations are in Julia’s friend Holly and Robbie’s fiancé Linda, who feel a bit too interchangeable as characters. Still both Roxanne Pallett as Holly and our own Nadia Forde (great to see her at work again) as Linda are so talented in their delivery of powerful vocals that you won’t mind all that much.
The choreography is vibrant and while the songs don’t stick in your mind as well as the classics, fans of the original 1998 film will be relieved that the two songs Sandler wrote for the flick are kept in the musical. The energy really kicks off after the song ‘Pop!’ in Act I and right up to the closing song of the act, ‘Saturday Night in the City’, a number full of sparkle and spectacle, the audience will be dazzled.
Act I is certainly the stronger half, using most of the original plot which leaves Act II with more filler material. Still, there are some great numbers here too, in particular ‘Single’, a number devoted to the laddish camaraderie one finds in the local pub. Another stand-out is Robbie’s grandma Rosie (Ruth Madoc) and friend George’s (Samuel Holmes) number ‘Move That Thang’, which is quite silly but all in good 80s fun.
If you find you're growing to like musicals – and you’d have to at least like if not love them because there are a lot of songs in the play – you will love The Wedding Singer so check it out this week as it only runs from today until Saturday (inclusive).