The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy (Arts Centre Melbourne) - 150 minutes including interval
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
What a thoroughly entertaining showpiece! I last saw The Wedding Singer when it played at the Athenaeum Theatre last May.
Now, at the State Theatre, at the Arts Centre, it remains just as fun filled and comedic, but it appears even slicker.
The leads are intact among the 20-strong cast and are truly memorable.
Photos by Nicole Cleary
Collectively, the company sing, pout, play and dance up a storm in a vivid, highly enjoyable production that brings the ‘80s back to life.
The music is ear-pleasingly fan friendly. In fact, I couldn’t get enough of it.
For those not familiar with the storyline, it concerns a wedding singer by the name of Robbie Hart (Christian Charisiou).
The year is 1985.
Robbie is the MC at a familiar venue with his band, which also comprises bass guitarist Sammy (Haydan Hawkins) and keyboard player George (Ed Deganos).
The following day he, himself, is due to tie the knot with his fiancé Linda (Kirby Burgess).
The pair met when she came to one of his gigs when he was in a metal band named Burning Sensation seven years earlier.
Robbie lives with and was brought up by his adorable and forthright grandmother Rosie (Susan-ann Walker).
Robbie is having trouble composing lyrics to a song he is writing just for Linda.
That is when a waitress he has bumped into – Julia Sullivan (Teagan Wouters) – offers to help.
Julia is waiting for a proposal from her hot shot Wall Street broker boyfriend of four years, Glen Guglia (Stephen Mahy).
Wealthy, shallow, materialistic and self-centred, Glen thinks nothing of standing up Julia on even special occasions.
Julia shares her hopes and dreams with fellow waitress Holly (Nadia Komazec), who has a love/hate relationship with Sammy the bass player.
That pair broke up six months earlier, but clearly still have feelings for one another.
As the big day dawns for Robbie, Linda decides he is no longer for her and leaves him at the altar.
He is shattered and the story takes off from there.
Hijinks abound as the spark between Robbie and Julia is ignited.
The path to true love is littered with casualties.
That single line probably best sums up the theme running through The Wedding Singer.
It is based on the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore hit movie, released in 1998.
The music is by Matthew Skylar, lyrics from Chad Beguelin and book by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy (who wrote the original film).
I loved everything about The Wedding Singer, which is a boisterous spirit lifter that puts smiles on faces.
Exaggerated characters and characterisations are the name of the game.
It is a romp and the highly talented cast milk it for all it is worth.
Teagan Wouters is pleasant, amiable and nerdish as Julia Sullivan. Vocally, she is pure and strong.
Christian Charisiou is at his best as the vituperative version of Robbie Hart, the wedding singer. He is a star.
Stephen Mahy is sleaze personified as Glen Guglia.
Kirby Burgess is a superb scene stealer ... a real showstopper, not once, but twice as Linda. Hers is a supremely confident and polished display, which screams “look at me”.
Susan-ann Walker has spunk and sass as Robbie’s indefatigable grandmother Rosie, who amusingly gives away far too much information about her sex life.
Ed Deganos capitalises on the role of the sensitive gay guy and band member George in a terrific showing.
Haydan Hawkins is a real winner as Sammy, a tough guy with a sweet heart, evidenced in his thrust and parry carry-on with Holly.
Speaking of the latter, Nadia Komazec commands attention every time she takes to the stage as Holly, Julia’s “rather loose” gal pal.
Interesting, in a case of life imitating art, Haydan and Nadia who met on the set of The Wedding Singer are now engaged to be married.
The choreographed dance numbers are slick and energising.
Among the many highlights is the appearance of several copycat entertainers as the musical draws to a close.
I speak of the likes of Gene Simons, Dolly Parton, Cher, Cyndi Lauper and Elton John.
That’s a hoot, as is much of the show.
The set consists of a faux brick and illuminated city skyline. Never far from the action is a large lit up heart containing the words “Simply Wed”.
The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy is joyful, light-hearted entertainment, which hits the spot perfectly.
Directed by Alister Smith, choreographed by Michael Ralph, with musical direction from Daniel Puckey, it is playing at the State Theatre at the Arts Centre until 20th February, 2022.
It then moves to Perth’s Her Majesty’s Theatre from 24th February until 13th March.