Skip the pre-season football. The late summer movies can wait. This weekend’s best entertainment is on stage at Nebraska Wesleyan's McDonald Theatre.
“The Wedding Singer” opened Thursday night with hilarious pre-show announcements and an opening number that was “Risky Business,” “Footloose” and “Fame” all rolled into one. The crescendo carried right on through the second act.
The musical, based on the 1998 movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, is set in 1985 New Jersey. Wedding singer Robbie Hart is left at the altar on his own wedding day. He befriends Julia, a waitress at the wedding hall who is engaged to Wall Street mogul Glen Gulia. Amid leg warmers, bad '80s hair and lots of spandex, a romance blossoms between Robbie and Julie.
James Hamrick made Robbie Hart his own in the Wesleyan production. The temptation would have been to imitate Sandler, but Hamrick demonstrated both his acting and vocal talents in creating a funny yet vulnerable Hart. Hamrick wore his mullet well, but his hair really couldn’t match that of his band mates, Sammy, played by Colton Schied, and George, played by Wesley B. VanHoosen. The trio’s sharp vocals and comic timing keep the on-stage wedding guests and the audience entertained.
Director Jack Parkhurst and guest choreographer Hollie Howard crafted a good script, great music and a talented cast into a memorable performance. The dancing, which was almost constant, was exceptional.
The show reached its apex in the second act when flamboyant George and Grandma Rosie, played by Liz Fichthorn, brought the house down with “Move That Thang.” Another notable performance was delivered by Annie Lelio as Linda.
Every aspect of the production, including costumes, sound and lighting, combined to make “The Wedding Singer” one of the most enjoyable productions to come to a university stage. Sure, a hairpiece may have slipped, and a pesky piece of furniture may have ground to a halt here and there, but what do you expect from mullets and vibrating beds?