Haven Theatre’s The Wedding Singer is Campy Fun
Reviewed by: Melody Udell
If you can wrap your head around the fact that a 1998 Adam Sandler romcom was made into a musical, then you just might enjoy the Haven Theatre’s production of The Wedding Singer. It’s a sweet, silly musical that, unlike other movie-to-stage adaptations, lends itself quite well to quirky musical numbers, clever one-liners and, of course, a sappy love story.
The plot sticks pretty close to the movie, which isn’t a bad thing—this is certainly a movie without a lot of room for creative license. Robbie, played by the charming Tony Allen, is the heartbroken lead singer of a wedding band in 1985 New Jersey. No matter how hard Robbie’s band mates (Daniel Martinez and Alex Heika) try, they can’t cheer him up after Robbie’s fiancé, Linda (the hilarious, all-too-brief Jill Sesso), stands him up at the altar. It’s not until cute waitress Julia (Aja Wiltshire) comes along that Robbie starts to snap out of his heartbreak. But Julia is dating a sleezy Wall Street hunk (Jacob Grubb) who’s all sorts of wrong for her.
As the show’s gooey center, Allen and Wiltshire have some basic chemistry, but Wiltshire, despite her beautiful voice, lacks the endearing qualities that make the audience really root for their seemingly doomed relationship. (It seems Allen, with his boyish charm, picks up the slack here.) Sarah Bockel, who plays Julia’s cousin Holly, delivers an appropriately saucy performance during the music video–esque “Saturday Night in the City,” which brings out the best in Stephanie Cluggish’s flashy costume design.
The jaunty music and lyrics (by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin, respectively) help move the show along at a brisk pace. And Judy Lea Steele, playing Robbie’s sassy, blunt-talking grandma, steals the show performing a rap duet with George the keyboard player (Heika). In fact, their performance is just one of many that makes The Wedding Singer a cute, campy bit of nostalgia translated on stage.
The Wedding Singer runs through Sunday, Nov. 17 at Theater Wit (1229 W. Belmont) on Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m.Tickets are $20-$35 and are available online or by phone at 773-975-8150. For calendar information, please visit www.TheatreInChicago.com