SLOC’s Wedding Singer Offers Up a Stage Filled With Strong Talent
What happens when you combine a very mediocre play with a stage filled with some wonderful talent? The production of The Wedding Singer, the musical comedy now at SLOC.
Based on the 1998 movie of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, wedding singer Robbie, and his band are playing a wedding gig when the curtain rises. At the wedding, he announces that tomorrow is his turn; he will be marrying his love, Linda, who unfortunately stands him up at the altar. While at the wedding, he meets a waitress, Julia Sullivan, who is anxiously hoping for her successful junk bond Wall Street trader boyfriend to propose to her. He pops the question. She’s elated, and he offers her everything she thinks she wants, money, security, and a home, money. Well, everything it turns out but love. He is a sleaze bag, and it takes her some time to come to that realization. The rest of the plot is pretty easy to figure out and follows the movie’s path. It’s the 1980’s, and Gordon Gekko is Julia’s fiancee George’s idol, though not in so many words. Shoulder pads are in big hair, cocaine, and excess.
Herein lies the problem, the show is beyond predictable, and the first act plays like a well-done high school production. The second act offers some more meat for the audience to mull through; there are some clever 80s references that people of a certain age will certainly enjoy. The music is good, entertaining, and has a sense of familiarity to it.
If you’ve hung in so far, don’t leave me now. The best part of the show is that, once again, SLOC has filled the stage with an amazing array of local talent. Brendan Brierley is Robbie, the wedding singer, and he lights up the stage from the opening number to the finale. His voice is strong and nuanced, and his performance is captivating; you will feel his pain, frustrations, and ultimate joy. The other members of the wedding band, Brandon True Argento and Francesco C. Archina, present wonderful comic performances as Sammy, the mullet head macho biker type, and George, the flamboyant queen, respectively, as well as very strong vocals. The two characters are so completely opposite yet work together beautifully.
Allison McArdle is Julia, the waitress looking for love. McArdle’s sweet voice offers the audience the warmth and longing Julia is seeking out. Both McArdle and Brierley play off one another with genuine feelings and honesty. Their Act II duet, Grow Old With You, is an evening high point.
Rounding out the strong supporting cast are Emily Nicole Fuller as Linda, the bride who jilts Robbie at the alter, Michaela Torres as Julia’s best friend, Holly, and Erica Buda-Doran, as Grandma Rosie, is a joy to watch. A strong ensemble admirably fills the stage.
From a production standpoint, again, we are treated to more highs than lows. Director Stephen Foust does as much as he can with the combination of a very able-bodied cast and a lame script. Choreographer Betsy Foust expertly puts this cast of twenty through their paces. She has managed to capture the feel of the time and have the cast work through some intricate maneuvers, all the while making them appear to be thoroughly and effortlessly enjoying themselves. Musical Director John Carroll does an outstanding job with soloists and full-cast musical numbers. Harmonies are tight. Notes are well-tuned, and again, this talented cast makes it all look easy.
Costume designer LuAnn Rees misses the boat, however, with ill-fitting costumes and inconsistent style. Set Designer Adam M. Coons makes excellent use of the two-tiered acting area, allowing the stage to hide props, furniture, and set pieces efficiently. Lighting and sound are in good hands with designers Michael Gatzendorfer and Katie Fitzmorris, respectively.
In all, SLOC’s Wedding Singer will offer a few hours of fun, escapism, and tons of talent. Wedding Singer is at the Opera House, 427 Franklin Street, Schenectady, through March 26. For ticket information: www.sloctheater.org or call: 518-730-7370.