The Wedding Singer The King's Theatre Edinburgh Review Tuesday 6th June 2017

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The Wedding Singer is taking us all on a trip back to 1985 this week at The King’s Theatre, and that setting is firmly established with some movie trailers running pre show for block busters of the period and period advertising throughout and neatly fitting into the stage set itself.  This is the stage adaptation of the 1986 movie of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the two main roles, and I have fond memories of this film from over 30 years ago.  Somehow though, much of the energy, human story and touching emotions of this original seem to have been lost somewhere in our time trip to the stage.


The plot is simple. Failing in his rock star dreams, Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns) becomes New Jersey's favourite wedding singer.  Full of ideas and romance, he is devastated when his own wedding plans go very wrong and shares those feelings with his new audience of couples to be.  Along the way a classic bad girl, bad boy, good girl, good boy starts to unfold with a predictable plot as Robbie starts to get involved with a request to sing at the upcoming wedding of Glen Gulia (Ray Quinn) and Julia Sullivan (Cassie Compton).  There are also some nice “best girl friends” moments between waitresses Julia and Holly (Stephanie Clift), and a  contrasting and rather forced humour between Robbie and his Grandmother Rosie (Ruth Madoc).Â


The rain outside the theatre continued its usual Scottish seasonal downpour tonight and, to be fair, the lightness of “The Wedding Singer” was a good and at times enjoyable escape from the cold and rain outside, and there were moments of warmth in the humour that brought much laughter from the audience.  I think part of the problem for this show is that romantic comedy films rarely transfer well to a stage adaptation, and when they have a strong musical element that gets even more difficult to pull off well – particularly when we are dealing with music and the look of the mid 1980s, a time when for the most part taste and style went on a long vacation.  The inclusion of a bad attempt at rap did not work either.  I have no idea why so many productions seem to think that the inclusion of a bad rap number somehow gives “credibility” to anything as it just does the opposite if not well done.


Good boy Jon Robyns as Robbie Hart and  good girl Cassie Compton as Julia Sullivan take a light comedy run through the storyline with admittedly a nice song or two, but strangely the better love songs owe more to the 1960s than the mid 1980s in their musical  make up.  Are these two young people really so in love with one another (almost from first sight) that their whole lives are re-scheduled ?… there is no evidence of that on stage between them  here.


As is so often the case, our villains get the best lines and best songs, and Glen Gulia played by Ray Quinn is no exception  here.  There are more than a few scenes where Ray Quinn gets to steal this show, and the musical number “All About the Green” is just one example of this.


“The Wedding Singer” is what it is, a light hearted run through some 1980s styled musical numbers, dance routines, comedy and a story of young love.  Unfortunately it does not spend enough time on any one element to really develop into what it is possibly really capable of.  It is though a show that certainly entertained its audience tonight and sometimes theatre needs only be a light hearted escape from the world outside for a few hours to do its job.

 

Review by Tom King

 

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TOM KING

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