It was a Wednesday night and both the stalls and circle of the State Theatre brimmed with punters for The Wedding Singer. Audiences are back... for a frolicky musical borne from a movie, borne from nostalgia for the 1980s.
There is a cult following for this poppy, colourful and easy to digest romp that goes unabashedly hard on the 80s references in a rom-com style narrative. The song book is fun and catchy, although not particularly memorable once the curtain falls.
Christian Charisiou plays wedding singer Robbie Hart, ditched at the altar by his fiancée, Linda (a fabulous Kirby Burgess). His passion for wedding singing and pursuing his rock career takes a dive until he and waitress Julia (Teagan Wouters) realise they are meant for each other. This means Julia has to break from her self-absorbed Wall Street banker beau Glen (played slickly by Stephen Mahy), leaving him alone in a Vegas wedding chapel with a Gene Simmons impersonator.
The show darts from the wedding hall to Robbie's basement bedroom to a shopping mall to a bank full of corporate suits to Las Vegas – at breakneck pace, with appropriate amounts of ballads and slapstick. Sliding panels trimmed with blue, pink and sparkly light strips keep it feeling very bright. Shoulder pads, big hair, rock t-shirts and blatant 80s references (remember Mr. Belvedere?) pepper everything.
It's over the top, but that's what keeps the fans coming back.
Wednesday night's show took a while to warm up, but grew in energy and vocals as it went along. Plenty of jazz hands, stag leaps and aerobic dancing from a consistent chorus filled nearly all the numbers, with choreographer Michael Ralph clearly relishing the cheese factor.
Nadia Komazec stood out as sidekick Hollie who dresses like Madonna and spouts most of the sassy, naughty dialogue, foiling Julia's good girl nature. She also gets to Flash dance, complete with water. Haydan Hawkins and Ed Deganos as band mates Sammy (long, haired rocker) and George (Boy George lookalike) give the requisite best friends role caricature treatment. Everyone's a stock character – it's that kind of a show, but that certainly doesn't stop the entertainment factor.
Directed by Alistair Smith and musical directed by Daniel Puckey, this Wedding Singer still brings in the crowds, even after a Melbourne season only a few years ago. Enjoy it for what it is and party like it's 1985.
From Melbourne, The Wedding Singer moves to Perth, opening 25 February at His Majesty's Theatre.
David Venn Enterprises presents
The Wedding Singer
music Matthew Sklar | lyrics Chad Beguelin | book Beguelin and Tim Herlihy
Director Alistair Smith
Venue: State Theatre | Arts Centre Melbourne VIC
Dates: 5 – 20 Feb 2022