Stage West’s The Wedding Singer features strong performances but a flat narrative

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Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starred in a 1998 movie called The Wedding Singer. It was cute. It was adapted into a play, a musical comedy. The Wedding Singer enjoyed its musical premiere at Stage West with new music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin and is written by Tim Herlihy.

The story doesn’t step out of the box. It’s 1985 and musician Robbie Hart (Aidan Desalaiz) is a popular wedding singer. He’s engaged as well to Linda (Sarah Horsman) and everything is going really well until she leaves him at the alter. Robbie has a hard time picking himself back up, even with the help of his band members Sammy (Ian Ronningen) and George (Andrew McGillivray). But slowly he becomes friendly with Julia (Elicia MacKenzie), a waitress who happens to be engaged to Glen (Kellan Ziffle).  And he must… stop her before she gets married!

The plot is trite. The story has been told before and there isn’t anything new to it. The stage production flattens out Julia by making her wedding obsessed instead of a sweet girl who just happens to be with the wrong man. All the women only talk about their relationships. But after all, it IS a musical about weddings.

So if you bypass the clichéd story and focus on the performers and music, The Wedding Singer has quite a bit of spark. Both MacKenzie and Desalaiz can sing and dance and the choreography in the numbers is quite impressive. Dana Jean Phoenix as Julia’s best friend Holly is dynamic and a great singer. Marcia Tratt wears out the joke of the Grandma being inappropriate, but puts on a great hip hop number with McGillivray. And McGillivray is funny and charming as the gay band member.

Ian Marten’s set is on the simple side but Ajay Badoni’s lighting adds a bit of punch.

Stage West’s The Wedding Singer has some outstanding singing and dancing. It’s an entertaining musical. Just don’t pay any attention to what’s actually going on in the narrative because that’s tired and pedestrian.

Stage West’s production of The Wedding Singer runs until November 8th. More information is available online.

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