The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer

Review

There are some tremendous voices amongst the Southampton Musical Society company. Laura Fealy (playing the raunchy Linda) and Eliza Joy as Rosie both got to exercise theirs on big, belting numbers, whilst Emma Harris, playing Julia, the romantic lead, got the sweeter songs and some lovely duets with Stu Collins (playing Robbie, the eponymous Wedding Singer).

 

It’s very much a New York musical. (There is an adage that Broadway musicals are structured to interest their audience demographic which is predominantly gay men and Jewish grandmothers. In this case the characters included a grandmother and a Jewish gay man.) Julia and Robbie fall for one another during the first scene, at which point they are both deeply entangled in other relationships: Robbie is about to get married (to wild thing and would-be Heavy Metal groupie Linda), whilst Julia rapidly becomes engaged to Wall Street trader Glenn (played with finely-judged self-centredness by David Harris). The story is of how, despite that, they finally get together. Julia wants to get married, but has doubts. Robbie has doubts about everything - living in his grandmother’s basement, his career (or lack of one) and who he really fancies. In the process, he survives a date with Rosie and Linda’s attempt to get back together, despite jilting him at the altar rail. I had to go a long way back in my records to find a show in which Stu Collins snogged more of the female leads. (Ask him about the Waterside Theatre Company’s production of Ladies Day in 2007.)

 

Whilst Julia has her fellow waitress Rosie for support, in Robbie’s case, he has the band: keytar player George (Daniel Ferrett), whose prolonged asthmatic gasp at Robbie’s mournful state was joyfully comic, and the slobby bass player, Sammy (Paul Rogers). The show got lots of fun out of just the contrast between them. The real band - the one in the pit under MD Russ Earnshaw - was much more competent, but a little too powerful, with keyboards, bass, three electric guitars, a wind section plus drums and percussion. The result was fine for the bigger numbers, but the sound balance needed to give more leeway to some of the solo vocalists; in particular in ‘All About the Green’, Glen’s paean to Wall Street, most of the lyrics got lost in the mix.

 

A good, straightforward set, colourful, but abstract, so that the multiple locations were achieved smoothly with just a few changes of furniture. There was a staircase and landing upstage, used for a few brief vignettes - notably for Glen and Julia’s flight to Las Vegas. Concealed doors beneath the landing screened a bed which was pushed-out for the scenes in Robbie’s basement room then cleared to give a large area for the lively dance numbers from the company.

 

The show is firmly set in 1985. (One of Glenn’s speeches makes a passing reference to Ivan Boesky, a Wall Street arbitrager then riding high, but prosecuted for insider dealing a year later.) For those of us with shaky memories of the time, the programme provided some handy reminders, in the form of neat call-out lists from the principal characters. The show ends at a Las Vegas wedding chapel, where Robbie rescues Julia with the help of a gang of celebrity look-alikes. To a rational person, this seems mad, but that is exactly what Las Vegas is like!

There are some tremendous voices amongst the Southampton Musical Society company. Laura Fealy (playing the raunchy Linda) and Eliza Joy as Rosie both got to exercise theirs on big, belting numbers, whilst Emma Harris, playing Julia, the romantic lead, got the sweeter songs and some lovely duets with Stu Collins (playing Robbie, the eponymous Wedding Singer).

 

It’s very much a New York musical. (There is an adage that Broadway musicals are structured to interest their audience demographic which is predominantly gay men and Jewish grandmothers. In this case the characters included a grandmother and a Jewish gay man.) Julia and Robbie fall for one another during the first scene, at which point they are both deeply entangled in other relationships: Robbie is about to get married (to wild thing and would-be Heavy Metal groupie Linda), whilst Julia rapidly becomes engaged to Wall Street trader Glenn (played with finely-judged self-centredness by David Harris). The story is of how, despite that, they finally get together. Julia wants to get married, but has doubts. Robbie has doubts about everything - living in his grandmother’s basement, his career (or lack of one) and who he really fancies. In the process, he survives a date with Rosie and Linda’s attempt to get back together, despite jilting him at the altar rail. I had to go a long way back in my records to find a show in which Stu Collins snogged more of the female leads. (Ask him about the Waterside Theatre Company’s production of Ladies Day in 2007.)

 

Whilst Julia has her fellow waitress Rosie for support, in Robbie’s case, he has the band: keytar player George (Daniel Ferrett), whose prolonged asthmatic gasp at Robbie’s mournful state was joyfully comic, and the slobby bass player, Sammy (Paul Rogers). The show got lots of fun out of just the contrast between them. The real band - the one in the pit under MD Russ Earnshaw - was much more competent, but a little too powerful, with keyboards, bass, three electric guitars, a wind section plus drums and percussion. The result was fine for the bigger numbers, but the sound balance needed to give more leeway to some of the solo vocalists; in particular in ‘All About the Green’, Glen’s paean to Wall Street, most of the lyrics got lost in the mix.

 

A good, straightforward set, colourful, but abstract, so that the multiple locations were achieved smoothly with just a few changes of furniture. There was a staircase and landing upstage, used for a few brief vignettes - notably for Glen and Julia’s flight to Las Vegas. Concealed doors beneath the landing screened a bed which was pushed-out for the scenes in Robbie’s basement room then cleared to give a large area for the lively dance numbers from the company.

 

The show is firmly set in 1985. (One of Glenn’s speeches makes a passing reference to Ivan Boesky, a Wall Street arbitrager then riding high, but prosecuted for insider dealing a year later.) For those of us with shaky memories of the time, the programme provided some handy reminders, in the form of neat call-out lists from the principal characters. The show ends at a Las Vegas wedding chapel, where Robbie rescues Julia with the help of a gang of celebrity look-alikes. To a rational person, this seems mad, but that is exactly what Las Vegas is like!

 

 

Pete Whitaker, Scene One

 

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