Review by Benjamin Lamb
The last few years have been pretty lousy; things have never felt like they’re getting back to normal, people are waiting for something to kick into gear and get us out of the madness. Melbourne’s The Wedding Singer is the perfect escape from it all, you’ll leave feeling in a way that you haven’t in a while.
The musical is based on the 1998 movie of the same name, so you can’t help but draw comparisons to the original source material. Each have their benefits, but the musical assuredly has its positives over the movie; there’s more music, more laughs, and perhaps most importantly of all, more nostalgia. Where the movie plays into the comedic sensibilities of leading man Adam Sandler, often at the expense of the remaining casts' screen time, the musical toys the perfect balance between each of the cast, creating an almost perfect equilibrium throughout the almost 3-hour show.
The musical is a delightful romp through the often-vicarious memories of the decades many of the audience weren’t even a part of. Music writer Matthew Sklar perfectly encapsulates the decades the musical portrays, there’s musical motifs littered through the score from all the hits of the 80’s and 90’s. The 80’s and 90’s references don’t stop at music, the whole musical watches as a salute to the movies of the time, with great tropes and stereotypes seen in romcoms during the time, as well as things during the time like New Coke, Jane Fonda workouts, and a whole lot more.
If you’re not too sure about the storyline, the musical centres around wedding singer Robbie Hart and his relationship with Julia Sullivan, a waitress he becomes enamoured with, but can’t pursue as each are with respective partners. But conversely, if you are a fan of the hit movie, there’s some select moments and little surprises that you’ll be excited to see, each of which elicit a massive crowd response.
The leading roles are played by Christian Charisiou and Teagan Wouters respectively, and their performances were truly phenomenal, especially when playing roles originated by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, it’s hard to separate yourself from them, but these two make the characters their own. You’d be hard pressed to find an as talented duo in Australia, these two excel in their roles. The talent doesn’t stop with Christian and Teagan, each member of the supporting cast had the charisma and stage presence of a lead.
There wasn’t one bad note throughout the cast, after a few years playing this musical on and off throughout Australia, the group are an extremely well-oiled machine. Besides some surface level audio issues, which were out of the cast’s control, they performed the show at a superhuman level.
When you have a show like The Wedding Singer, it’s clear that the music comes first, there’s nothing else really needed for audience enjoyment, which meant the lighting and staging, albeit limited, topped off the already amazing experience of the show.
The Sunday matinee crowd left feeling a little more hopeful about things, every audience member walked out of the Arts Centre with an infectious smile on their face. Melbourne’s The Wedding Singer is the show we all need right now. It’s playing at the State Theatre until February 20.