Review: The Wedding Singer (Curve, Leicester and tour)

The bright and breezy musical based on the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler

Curve has made no secret of its desire to become the regional home of the musical. And although it’s not new and it’s not British, The Wedding Singer gets a high-octane send-off from the venue on an eight-month tour of the UK with this bright and breezy new production.

The stage musical is based on a 1998 Adam Sandler movie vehicle that was amusing without ever reaching the dizzy heights of cult or classic status. It’s always something of a hostage to fortune branding a show 'hilarious', as the producers have chosen to do with this production. And the truth is that the slight-as-a-wedding-veil story never climbs above the moderately entertaining, while including some good one-liners and a nice vein of knowing '80s references.

What it has in its favour is a score of hummable, poppy tunes by composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin, delivered by a vibrant, committed cast of talented performers. In the pit, musical director George Dyer commands a band that are as tight as a pair of skin-tight trousers, even if the sound balance is all over the shop, swamping far too much of the vocals for far too much of the time.

Director-choreographer Nick Winston strikes a sensible note from the off, centre-staging his star performer Jon Robyns and keeping him pretty much there throughout. As Robbie, the titular wedding singer with a roller coaster love life, Robyns shows off his pedigree as a classy triple threat, singing, dancing and acting with consistent panache and is never less than totally watchable.

Playing off him as the nominal villain of the piece, one-time X Factor runner-up Ray Quinn more than holds his own, almost stealing the show with his big second-act paean to the dollar, "All About the Green". Up against this pair, Cassie Compton and Roxanne Pallett face an uphill battle but do a fine job as the will-she-won’t-she girl next door and her trashy but lovable friend.

Ruth Madoc shakes off any memories of Hi-de-Hi‘s Gladys Pugh with a wonderful turn as Robbie’s grandmother, and there’s terrific support from Ashley Emerson and Samuel Holmes as his bandmates. Holmes in particular transforms what could be a one-joke sideshow into a genuinely entertaining three-dimensional character, while the male misery song "Single" offers another standout moment as the boys drown their sorrows in a bar, giving Winston’s choreographic calibre a chance to shine through.

A warm reception on opening night bodes well for the road ahead, and I have no doubt the show will get slicker as everyone settles into their roles. As fun as it is at the moment, I suspect there’s more to be mined from this impressive cast.

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The Wedding Singer runs at Curve, Leicester until 18 February, and then tours the UK.