There have been no end of juke box musicals to choose from recently, so the fact that The Wedding Singer has an original score makes it stand out in a crowd. But you are not watching a true original, as the show is based on the film of the same name which starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
Replacing these Hollywood stars are Jonathan Wilkes as Robbie Hart - the third rate wedding singer - and Natalie Casey as Julia, the waitress with a heart of gold. Once jilted at the altar, he falls for her - but she is due to wed rich guy, Glen. If you like “rom-coms”, then this one has many familiar ingredients to make you smile, including; annoying would-be spouses and wise cracking best friends. But it lacks real romance.
Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar’s songs are throwaway at best with plenty of 80’s references to keep them from becoming too forgettable. “Saturday Night In The City” brings the show to life but this is mainly due to a scene stealing turn from Jodie Jacobs. Her powerful vocals mean that you long for her character Holly to be centre stage throughout.
Likewise the brilliant Simon Lipkin as Robbie’s best buddy also gives it his all on the otherwise disposable track “Single.” He has great comic timing and again, it is a shame he is not one of the leads. Special mentions must go to crowd-pleasers Nick Hayes as George and Tricia Deighton as Grandma Rosie. Their “Grandma Rap” has the audience in stitches.
Wilkes is better than I have seen him before, both vocally and comically. But whenever he has to give Robbie light and shade, he struggles and reverts to playing himself. Casey, however is a fine comedienne and a great actress. Vocally though she is underwhelming; never quite hitting the high notes. Also, these two do not convince as a couple, as they seem more like slumber-party pals.
Isla Shaw’s cheap and cumbersome set design needs a revolve as you can see the stage hands, which often brings the narrative to a grinding halt. Karen Bruce’s normally athletic choreography also lacks the spark that turned Footloose into a hot show.
Does The Wedding Singer moon walk its way into your your heart? Not quite, but with a few more months on tour and heaps of energy and commitment, you might be more inclined to say: “I do.”