The Wedding Singer a stage musical (based on the movie) by Matt Sklar, Tim Herlihy and Chad Beguelin is a goofy, satirical romp celebrating cheesy American pop culture of the 1980’s. Tim Herlihy, as a matter of fact, wrote the screenplay for the film. Robbie Hart is a congenial, good-hearted singer/songwriter and musician who leads a three man band that plays many small events, including bar mitzvahs, birthdays, anniversaries and (you guessed it) weddings. Robbie is still waiting for his ship to come in, but his delayed success has not made him bitter. The beginning of The Wedding Singer finds him serenading the happy couple, the night before his own wedding to Linda. Julia Sullivan is a waitress at the club that books so many of Robbie’s gigs. Julia is sweet, genuinely caring, and perhaps has a little more on the ball than Robbie. As you might expect, Robbie and Julia are both promised to the wrong people, but don’t worry. It will all come out in the wash.
Inspired by the music of the 80’s, but with an original score, The Wedding Singer is filled with happy surprises. I’m not a huge fan of Adam Sandler (Robbie of the film) but there’s a kind of unvarnished, unapologetic cynicism behind much of the humor, that curiously enough, seems to energize the show. It walks the razors edge of schmaltz, then smacks you off your pins with a nice big dose of misanthropy. Not that Wedding Singer is especially more jaundiced than any other musical satire, say like Avenue Q or A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Sklar, Herlihy, and Beguelin (and/or Bruce Coleman) have taken great pains to cultivate that classy 1980’s milieu, from hair-don’ts and Rubik’s Cubes to Mr. T and the snarling Billy Idol. We’re invited to laugh in the same way we’d view our high school graduation pictures and cringe. Most rewarding I think, is the insistence that there’s more to life than being the coolest guy in the room.
Special props must go to Costume Design by Bruce Coleman and Scenic Design by David Walsh, who have created vivid, jazzy, evocative threads and sets, all the better to set the party throbbing. This cast must be living on a diet of V8 and Red Bull. Poised, resourceful director Bruce Coleman has them hoppin and bobbin and jumping through hoops that should qualify the lot for Cirque D’ Soleil. Numerous and nimble costume and scenery changes are demanded by actors and crew and we never once see any of them miss their marks. Throw taste and caution to the wings and enjoy a daffy, giggly night with The Wedding Singer.
Theatre 3 presents The Wedding Singer, playing September 22nd -October 16th, 2016. 2800 Routh Street, Suite 168, Dallas, Texas 75201. 214-871-3300. www.theatre3dallas.com