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The Wedding Singer
a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin, and Tim Herlihy

COMPANY : Next Stage Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : New Dawn Theater [WEBSITE]
ID# 3986

SHOWING : April 01, 2011 - April 10, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION


CAST & CREW LIST
Music Director Annie Cook
Director Rob Hardie
Choreographer John Parker Jr.
Band Director Hayley Tanner
Stage Manager Amber Clarke
Keyboard Mark W. Schroeder
Billy Idol Impersonator/Ensemble Roger Albelo
Madonna Impersonator/Ensemble Audrey Beauchamp
Imelda Marcos Impersonator/Ensemble Kaylee Bugg
Ensemble Bree Clark
Glen Guglia Jason Cook
Donatella/Ensemble Christie Fisher
Rabbi Rob Hardie
Tina Turner Impersonator/Ensemble Adrienne Harris
Ensemble Mesha Hightower
Ensemble Tess Luman
Cyndi Lauper Impersonator/Ensemble Rachel McAlister
Holly Mandy Mitchell
Ensemble/Asst. Stage Manager Becca Parker
Prince Impersonator/Ensemble John Parker Jr.
George Trevor Petty
Robbie Hart Daniel Pino
Sammy Matt Pino
Julia Sullivan Lauren Rosenzweig
Ensemble/Asst. to Director Leanne Smith
Grandma Rosie Anita Stratton
Ensemble J.D. Touchton
Grandma Rosie Debby Wachsman
Angie/Ensemble Karen Walsh
Ensemble Chris Watson
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REVIEWS

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Robbie's Girl
by Dedalus
Thursday, May 5, 2011
3.5
Let’s start out with a bias disclaimer or two. I hated the 1980’s. I spent most of it on the graveyard shift, music and theatre generally sucked (IMHO), I was living a dull bachelor life, and, to make matters worse, Reagan was president. So, I have zero sense of nostalgia for the decade, and any musical that wallows in it will have a steep hill to climb for me.

On the other hand, I’ve often worked closely with Next Stage founder and “Wedding Singer” director Rob Hardie, who, truth to tell, has a somewhat more than passing interest in “Theatre Buzz” itself, so anything I say about his work must (and I mean MUST) be taken with a king-size grain of salt.

So, if I say there was a lot to like about Next Stage’s “The Wedding Singer,” (a few things even to love), you are excused if you find yourself shaking your head in rueful skepticism.

That being said, there was a lot to like about Next Stage’s “The Wedding Singer,” (a few things even to love),

Based on the 1998 Adam Sandler, movie, this show is about Robbie Hart, the lead singer in a Jersey band specializing in weddings. When he gets dumped at the altar, he goes into an emotional tailspin until he is “rescued” by Julia Sullivan, a waitress engaged to a Wall Street jerk. The rest of the play is all about how these two get the wrong people out of their lives and the right people in.

The first things to like about this show are the performances of the two leads, Daniel Pino (as Robby) and Lauren Rosenzweig (as Julia). They are perfectly matched, equally wide-eyed innocent and wounded, and, we can’t help but root for them from the moment they meet.

Other cast members were equally impressive, Mandy Mitchell as Julia’s wild-and-crazy friend Holly, Katrina Stroup as the shallow Linda, and Anita Stratton as Grandma Rosie. I was somewhat less impressed with Jason Cook’s Glenn Gulia (yes, if Julia’s marriage ever happened, she’d be “Julia Gulia.” Ouch!), who looked great and was suitably slimy, but he went no further than that – there was no surface charm that gave us any hint as to why Julia was attracted to him in the first place. He also occasionally seemed to lose his place in some of the numbers, being a just a hair off pitchwise or pacewise.

The next thing to like (even love) about the show is the high-wattage choreography (by John Parker and Anna Galt). They made the large group numbers amusing without being silly and energetic without being tiring. The show opens with a bang, the production number “It’s Your Wedding Day,” and the large cast of dancing singers make it all look easy. As to whether or not the style evokes the ‘80’s themselves, well, since I more-or-less slept through the decade, I have no way of judging.

The set (designed by Paul Ingbritsen and Mark Luman) was simple and highly adaptive, side wall quickly becoming Robbie’s bedroom, a stool or bench or platform quickly placed and quickly removed, and the design kept the whole thing whizzing by quicker than a cocaine buzz, and it all worked beautifully and smoothly. I also liked how the orchestra (plotwise, it was Robbie’s back-up band) was part of the set, placed upstage and backed up by a nicely lit (at times) cyc.

Other tech aspects were not so helpful to the show, mikes that went in and out at will, voices amped to the point of distortion, lights that left lead singers in the dark and background folks in stark focus. I did like how the background cyc had multi-colored lights dancing over it, but, again, they occasionally went to dark at the oddest of times.

So, yes, even though it wallows in ‘80’s nostalgia (shudder), I still found the show a lark and a joy to watch. The first act is especially fun and the show only lags slightly as the second act takes a bit too long to get to its conclusion. The songs are pleasant and bouncy and even (at times) memorable, and, a good time will be had by all!

Even if, like me, you absolutely hated the 1980’s.

-- Brad Rudy (BK Rudy@aol.com)



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Ring the Bells
by playgoer
Sunday, April 10, 2011
4.5
Next Stage Theatre Company is putting on a raunchy, energetic production of the catchy musical "The Wedding singer." Two appealing leads, Daniel Pino and Lauren Rosenzweig, provide the heart of the story, with lots of action and song swirling around them. Bits of business throughout the production show that director Rob Hardie has a flair for detailed, unique, character-driven comedy.

The set for the show is primarily simple panels painted with overlapping squares in the bright colors of the logo. One panel has a Murphy bed and another revolves to show the water heater in our hero Robbie Hart's basement apartment. Upstage, scaffolding holds lights that project the colors of the logo behind the four-piece band. Lighting is generally good, using a more complex lighting scheme than is usually seen at the New Dawn Theater.

The set doesn't have a specific period feel, but the costumes by Mandy Mitchell and Jane Kressig certainly ground the action in the late 1980's. Hairstyles too mark the time period, with lots of very good-looking wigs in use. Bright colors and wacky outfits bring a lot of visual appeal to the show.

Performances are all good. The two leads hit all the right notes in their sincere performances, and they are ably supported by their more idiosyncatic friends -- Trevor Petty as a Boy George wannabe, Matthew Pino as a burly rocker, and Mandy Mitchell as a co-worker of our heroine. The heavily-used ensemble also adds to the joy, donning different outfits and looks as they portray wedding parties, business people, street people, and anyone else required to tell the story. The only one not coming across particularly well is Jason Cook as Glen (our heroine's cheating fiance). He's not handsome or egotisical enough to rile the audience, but he does have a great voice used to advantage is his number extolling "The Green" (money).

"The Wedding Singer" is a smartly written show, interleaving elements of the movie with the cheery score by Mathew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics). The role of Grandma Rosie is pretty much actor-proof, so I'm sure both ladies alternating in the role are good. (No announcement was made to indicate who was playing the role in the performance I saw.) She's a randy, hip woman and epitomizes the somewhat crude tone of the show. The actors don't flinch at the things they're asked to do in the sometimes frenetic choreography and staging. And, oh, what energy! [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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