- By Linda Glaser
“The show rolls around in its own ridiculousness with utter glee,” says R2P co-artistic director Joey Steinhagen. “It embraces full on that it’s completely absurd, which makes it tremendously fun for the audience and the actors.”
"The Wedding Singer" takes us back to a time when hair was big, greed was good, collars were up, and a wedding singer might just be the coolest guy in the room. It's 1985 and rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart (St. John Faulkner) is New Jersey's favorite wedding singer. He's the life of the party until his own fiancee (Ilana Wallenstein) leaves him at the altar and the devastated Robbie proceeds to make every wedding as disastrous as his own. Enter Julia (Cali Newman), a lovely waitress who wins his affection. But Julia is about to be married to a Wall Street shark (Anthony Nigro), and unless Robbie can pull off the performance of a decade, the girl of his dreams will be gone forever. Alongside Robbie & Julia as they find romance are Robbie’s Jon Bon-Jovi type best friend Sammy (Honor Meyerhoff), Boy George look-alike George (Felix Fernandez-Penny), Julia’s best friend Holly (Hanalei Berg), and sweet but spunky Grandma Rosie (Maddie Vandenberg).
The musical is based on the hit movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, which in turn is based on a book written by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy. Beguelin wrote the lyrics and Matthew Sklar the music. (For those familiar with the movie, R2P’s "Wedding Singer" is a slightly cleaned-up version, suitable for pre-teens.)
“The songs enhance the quirky, irreverent sense of humor that make this show so lovable, while underpinning the whole thing with the energy of rock and roll,” says music director Jeff Cox, an Ithaca College graduate student.
Emilyl Loewus, returning as choreographer, keeps things moving. “The show is fast-paced enough to keep young people entertained, while including enough historical and cultural innuendos to satisfy an adult audience,” says co-artistic director Gail Belokur. “I’ve had a lot of fun remembering my college years while producing this show!”
What Steinhagen calls the “dream team” of Tyler M. Perry on lighting and David Arsenault as scenic designer will turn the State Theatre’s stage into a faux New Jersey wedding chapel, complete with cheesy colored lights and plenty of versatility. Steinhagen, a New Jersey native, is intimately familiar with the tackiness of the kind of wedding hall lampooned in the show. “For people with a lot of money and not much taste,” he says with a laugh.
'Wedding Singer's' comic bonanza runs only one weekend, July 12-14, at the State Theatre of Ithaca, with performances on Friday and Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.