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Tom O'Brien chats about The Wedding Singer

Director Tom O'Brien speaks to us about The Company's production of ''The Wedding Singer'' which comes to the Lowry this Summer.

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Tom O'Brien
© Pamela Raith Photography

What attracted you to The Wedding Singer?

Initially, it was the music that attracted me to the show, the score is electric and very evocative of the 80s. It is an era of extremity, with lots of very colourful characters. I thought the young people involved could access and have a great amount fun with that element of the piece. The show requires high energy and a lot of attack from a cast. ‘The Company' is all about creating ensemble based musical theatre and using the young people's talents and amazing energy to tell a story. We thought The Wedding Singer would be a perfect marriage of show and company.

Why do you think it's so rarely performed in the UK?

I am not totally sure. It is a very American show, so it could be that, but on the other hand I think Britain really does understand and enjoy American culture. Maybe it is due to the large cast requirement and the extremely challenging vocal lines.

If someone is a fan of the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore film, how similar is it to this?

Well the 80s style of music is very prominent in both the show and the film, but the difference is that the music in the show helps to push along the narrative. The show is very much inspired by the film and has managed to keep the tone and the comedic elements that fans will recognise, but it is definitely an expansion and re-invention in its own right.

What's your favourite song in the show?

There are many great songs in the show, every number is very well written, but probably ‘Right in Front of Your Eyes' – sang by Holly in the show. It sheds light on the comical power of love, and truly pulls at your heart strings, it is also very catchy.

The Company have had tremendous success. This must be gratifying?

The Company is a real labour of love and I am very proud to be involved. It gives opportunities to so many talented individuals who may not normally enjoy this type of experience, in most cases due to financial difficulties. It is integral to a new generation of young artists that this type of nurturing exists. I have been working with The Company for only two years but it has been in existence for over 6. There are now a huge number of alumni working out there in the industry whose journey started here.

What would you say to someone who might expect an amateur theatre production?

Well don't! First of all the whole creative team (including design and stage management) are working professionals and the rehearsal process is run with the same rigour, discipline and attention to detail as one would expect when working with professional actors. Also, our expectations, standards and commitment required of the cast is always extremely high - they want to be there more than anything and take it very seriously. We audition nationally and are very selective, so you really are seeing top class performances in a professionally produced show.

What's the best thing to happen to you whilst working for the Company?

Quite honestly, it is how much I have learnt and have been inspired by working with these young people, it really pushes you to want be better as a director. They are like sponges, so the responsibility is huge. You want to make sure you guide them in a positive and nurturing way. Even though they are knackering, I love the rehearsals the best!

Can you sum up why people should come and see the show?

You will get a fantastic evening at an excellent theatre! The show has heart, terrific songs and a very funny storyline. The Wedding Singer is a celebration of love and life and these are two things that we should all embrace. More importantly, you should come to support the future generation of theatre makers and performers who invest so much time and care into pushing their creativity and imagination to the limit in order to tell a great story!

The Wedding Singer is at the Lowry from 7 - 9 August.