Director Ryan Mooney hasn’t managed to replicate the success of some of his previous productions, but most of the blame here lies with the source material. The songs (music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin), while not terrible, are largely forgettable and uninspired.
The Wedding Singer book is stitched together haphazardly, and never quite comes together as a whole. Where the movie was carried on the collective star power and charisma of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, the stage version has chosen to rely on an endless barrage of 80s references, in the hopes that the audience won’t notice the paper-thin story.
Sandler’s trademark juvenile humour hasn’t translated well to the stage. Many supporting characters have had their stage time expanded, but remain cringingly one-dimensional. A grandmother who likes to talk about sex? Check. A wise-cracking gay band member? Check. Jokes that are stretched on for far too long? Check.
Linda Noble’s portrayal of Robbie’s grandmother Rosie comes off as a badly-drawn caricature. Noble isn’t old enough to make the naughty senior bit work for her and her delivery didn’t garner much of a reaction from the audience.
The actors made the most of what they were given to work with. Andrew Halliwell, as wedding singer Robbie Hart, has a serviceable stage presence and rock voice which helped smooth over some of the show’s rougher edges.
On a technical note, the sound quality was spotty throughout the show and microphones cut in and out repeatedly.
Though The Wedding Singer is far from a hit, Fighting Chance deserves credit for taking chances on shows that have not yet been seen in Metro Vancouver. Local theatre companies seem far too eager to mount the same old shows, year after year. I’d much rather experience a flawed play, like this one, for the first time than sit through yet another showing of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, no matter how well-produced.
Fighting Chance Productions presents The Wedding Singer until May 22, 2010 at the Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery, Vancouver. Tickets are available online or by calling 604-224-8007 ext. 3